GUWAHATI: The Assam Cabinet on Tuesday approved the release of Rs 308.75 crore as part of a relief package to the employees of two non-functional paper mills in the state.
“This (the amount) will provide further support to the employees of the two paper mills and is in line with the commitment of the state government,” chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma reacted in a tweet after the Cabinet meeting.
The state government had, last year, offered a relief package of Rs 570 crore to the two mills, which includes settlement of various outstanding dues of employees and workers of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited’s assets. The package was then approved by the state Cabinet in September last year.
But, the payment was not cleared. After a Cabinet meeting in Guwahati earlier this year, minister Pijush Hazarika had said that the Assam cabinet had allocated an amount of Rs 375 crore for participating in the bidding to take over assets of the Cachar and Nagaon paper mills and a leasehold land of the HPC in Haflong. The minister also said the dues of the mills’ employees would be cleared within three months.
The Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions (JACRU) of the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills had through an email sought the intervention of the chief minister on Monday to disburse the relief package immediately and implement the agreement in letter and spirit.
“We shall be highly obliged for your urgent intervention to save the lives of the workers and employees struggling for survival,” JACRU president, Manobendra Chakraborty stated in the email to the chief minister.
The state government had on March 28, 2022, taken over the assets of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) paper mills at Jagiroad and Panchgram.
The Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district and Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon have been non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively.
Employees of the mills have not been paid salaries since the past 63 months even as 103 workers have so far lost their lives, many of them unable to bear the rising cost of medical treatment.
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