Guwahati: The Kerala government’s move to take over a defunct plant of Hindustan Newsprint Limited and resume operations from January 1, 2022, has given the workers and employees of the non-functional Nagaon and Cachar Paper Mills renewed hope about a similar proposition here in Assam very soon.

The Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions (JACRU) of Nagaon and Cachar Paper Mills on Sunday appealed to the state government to toe the Kerala line and revive the two mills of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) in Assam.

The Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district and Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district have been non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively, much like the Kerala-based central PSU had to shut down its production plant about two years ago citing financial losses.

The Kerala government took over the company after the Centre had initiated plans to privatise the unit.

Reportedly, the new company, Kerala Paper Products Limited (KPPL), under the state government is set to achieve full-scale operation in four phases over 46 months, and the unit will be able to employ more than 3,000 people upon being fully operational.

Speaking to EastMojo on Sunday, JACRU president Manobendra Chakraborty lauded the move of the Kerala government to take over and revive the paper plant, which would not only result in optimum utilisation of local resources but provide employment to youths.

“The new company in Kerala will resume a trial run on January 1, 2022, before commencing commercial operations from May 1, 2022. While the Kerala government has certainly led the way to show how a defunct central PSU can be taken over and revived, we are yet to see the same happening regarding the HPCL-owned non-functional mills,” Chakraborty said.

“As many as 98 employees and workers of the two paper mills in Assam, who have not received their salaries and other financial dues for years together, have died after not being able to afford the cost of their medical treatment,” he said.

The JACRU president however appealed to the state government to pay the pending salaries of the employees and workers of the two mills so that they “remain alive.”

“We trust that the current dispensation would consider our woes and give us justice. Else, the upcoming generations will not forgive the government,” Chakraborty said.  

It may be recalled that the Assam government and the workers’ unions of the two mills had, on September 29, 2021, reached an agreement to resolve the pending issues of salary payment and other dues after a marathon meeting.

According to the agreement, a relief package of Rs 570 crore was to be disbursed for the employees within two months on approval by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) of the proposal submitted by the Assam government.

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