Guwahati News Desk: Urging Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, an association of contractors of a closed paper mill of the Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) in Assam made an appeal to him on Monday for releasing the pending dues of its members.
While addressing in a press meet on Monday, the Nagaon Paper Mill (NPM) Contractors Association President, Narayan Prasad Sharma, stated that before the paper mill becoming defunct in 2017, contractors, handling, and maintenance vendors of the association, especially bamboo growers and suppliers belonging to indigenous rural tribes, had supported the management for running the unit.
Observing that they did their assigned work sincerely, Sharma said due to the closure of the mill “We have become helpless and jobless. The amount we had spent on our various contract and supply work in Nagaon Paper Mill remains pending for the last five years”.
Further, pointing out the receivable amounts by the contractor and suppliers that were already acknowledged and admitted by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), he said the Association is optimistic and has faith in the chief minister to look into the matter and take the right initiative to solve the problems faced by them during their involvement with the debt-ridden mill under the Ministry of Heavy Industries.
The Association’s general secretary Lal Rajbhar also informed that the Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district and the Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district, both HPCL units, have been non-functional since March 2017 and October 2015 respectively.
Rajbhar added that the employers and workers have not been paid their salaries for a long period and their financial condition is worsening further.
He also informed that even at present, the matter of HPCL and its two mills, the Nagaon Paper Mill and the Cachar Paper Mill, in Assam, is in the court of the National Company Law Tribunal which has given judgement for liquidation of assets of both the mills and release of payment among stockholder as per the norms of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (IBC) Code, 2016.
Moreover, last week itself the government of Assam informed that it will acquire the assets of the two defunct mills and provide the relief package. The chief minister had said, “The Rs 570 crore package will take care of 28 months’ salary (of employees) and other dues but the government has assured it will not prejudice the claims of workers pending in courts.”
The Association sternly urged the chief minister to solve their financial hardship as he had announced a relief package of Rs 570 crore for those who lost their jobs due to the closure of the mills.
Furthermore, when the mills stopped their operations, the employees protested on several occasions and moved courts seeking to revive the mills and clear their pending dues. However, amidst all of this as many as 95 employees died due to poor health since the mills shut down, and at least three employees committed suicide.