Assam: Contractors of closed HPCL paper mill urge CM to pay dues
Credit: File image

Guwahati: In a big relief and a major go-ahead to the pending case and concerns of the workers of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL), the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in a modified order included the Union government as a ‘party’ in its appeal made before the court.

As per a statement released by the Cachar Paper Project workers’ Union, the NCLAT has included the Union of India as a ‘party’ in its original company appeal (AT) to case no. 586 of 2019 of the order dated May 29, 2019 through a modified order dated June 23, 2015 following an appeal made by the workers’ union before the apex body.

Copy of statement issued by Cachar Paper Project Workers’ union
Copy of statement (Page 2) issued by Cachar Paper Project Workers’ union

The statement further directed the Centre to comply with the recent NCLAT order through which it holds 100% ownership and administrative control over the Cachar and Nagaon Paper mills under the Union ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises.

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The NCLAT order also directed the Centre to initiate immediate necessary action to ensure HPC Paper Mills as a ‘going concern’ and release all pending salaries and statutory dues of the workers as per the department of public enterprise guidelines.

Copy of the NCLAT order issued to Cachar Paper Project Workers’ union
Copy of the NCLAT order issued to Cachar Paper Project Workers’ union

The inclusion of Government of India as a ‘party’ by NCLAT has come as a big relief for the workers of the Cachar and Nagaon paper mill who have been fighting a losing battle for their survival over the past years.

Significantly, employees of the HPC alleged that the Central government has been repeatedly attempting to deny to the earlier NCLAT orders issued on May 29, 2019 by suppressing or washing away their responsibilities and resorting to excuses.

“We have been compelled to approach again before NCLAT for modification of order dated 29th May of this year, to include Union of India as a ‘Party’ so that the Government may not look for any excuse further, ” an HPC employee said.

Earlier on March 13, 2017, the HPCL decided to stop production at the Nagaon Paper Mill located in Jagiroad of Assam’s Morigaon district. This was after the state-run enterprise shut down the Cachar Paper Mill, its other unit in the state, on October 20, 2015.

Meanwhile, instead of looking after its staffers, HPCL had stopped paying salaries, provident fund, pension or gratuity to them. Over the years, 51 workers died prematurely and while in service due to tension related to financial difficulties. Some died or lost a near and dear one because they didn’t have the money for medical treatment. Two employees also purportedly committed suicide during this period.

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