Assam Cong flays eviction notice to mill workers, demands relief package

Deals made with private parties need to be transparent, says MP

GUWAHATI, Sept 6: The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has sought a relief package for the employees of the Nagaon Paper Mill and Cachar Paper Mill under Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd (HPCL) who have recently been served a notice by the HPCL liquidator to vacate their residential quarters within 15 days.

A delegation of the Employees’ Redressal Committee constituted by the APCC president to look into the matters of the two paper mills had met the representatives of the Nagaon Paper Mill employees at Jagiroad on Sunday.

The committee led by Lok Sabha MP Pradyut Bordoloi took note of the various longstanding problems of the employees and alleged failure of the government to honour its repeated commitments to revive the industries which have been non-functional for the past four to six years now.

As many as 93 employees of the mills have died since the mills stopped functioning, as several of them could not afford medical treatment because of nonpayment of salary and other dues for the past 58 months.

“We strongly condemn the eviction notice served to the employees of the two paper mills by liquidator Kuldeep Varma. APCC considers such a notice without any financial guarantee to the employees as a ridiculous and preposterous move, devoid of any compassionate reasoning. Such a notice, especially during the economic distress faced due to the pandemic, is utterly inhuman and therefore unacceptable,” Bordoloi said, while addressing reporters here on Monday.

“Assam Congress will stand by and protect the interests of the employees of the closed paper mills of Assam. Under no circumstances should the workers and employees of the two mills vacate their quarters,” he said.

“We therefore demand that the Assam government should show solidarity with the employees and come forward with a relief package by meeting all their past commitments (about revival of the closed mills and payment of all dues to the employees),” the senior Congress leader said.

Bordoloi further pointed out that HPCL, from its inception, was granted a 100 years’ lease on the bamboo of Assam and parts of Mizoram and operated the two profit-making mills for the production of paper.

“The government has kept the company in lockdown and now is willing to liquidate the company. It is alleged that the reason behind liquidating this company could be due to bamboo, which is the raw material, and that the Assam government wants to give access to the bamboo on a platter for vested interests to the private company to make products such as ethanol which has high demand and value,” he stated.

“Similarly the Assam government has to be clear on its stand regarding the handing over of the oil wells in Panchgram. APCC contends that no asset of the government should be handed over to private parties on a platter and demands transparency on such deals made with private parties,” Bordoloi said.

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