Assam: 89 paper mill employees dead so far after not receiving salary for more than 5 years

Over 1,200 employees have not been paid their salaries since the time the mills were shut. 


Abdul Hannan, a 54-year old employee who worked in the paper machine department of the shut Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district of Assam, became the latest victim of non-payment of salary for five years now, as he died at his residence on Saturday after not being able to afford treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Hannan, who is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter, became the 89th person who died due to non-payment of salaries. The tally includes four other workers who had committed suicide after not being able to sustain their livelihoods.

"Hannan passed away because he could not afford treatment as he, like all other employees of the mill, had not been paid the salaries for more than five years," Cachar Paper Project Workers and Employees Union (Independent) general secretary A.R. Mazumder alleged on his death.

The Cachar Paper Mill has been shut since October 2015, while the Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district closed its doors in March 2017. Both were units of the Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC) Limited.

Over 1,200 employees have not been paid their salaries since the time the mills were shut. 

"An estimated four lakh people have been directly or indirectly impacted by the closure of the mills, which once was touted to be the largest in Asia," the union officials said.

Earlier, the BJP government had promised twice to revive the paper mills in the state, after it assumed power in 2016. The party also made it an agenda for the recently concluded assembly elections as well, but no action has been taken so far.
Opposition parties Congress, AIUDF, Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to intervene on the matter and to ensure that the paper mills are not auctioned but instead steps are taken to revive the units.

As of now, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on April 26, ordered the selling of HPC to recover costs, a decision which was in accordance with the order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

An auction for the same is likely to happen on June 30.

(Edited by Marvin Kharsohnoh)

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