Auction looms over Assam paper mills as employees' woes pile up

The committee further sniffed a conspiracy being hatched to sell the valuable assets of Assam to a third party at “throwaway prices.”

From Our Correspondent


Two non-functional paper mills owned by the Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited in Assam are on the brink of sale to a third party despite repeated pleas to the government to revive the “assets”.

As it is, for the employees of the two mills, who have not been paid salaries and statutory dues since the past 54 months, it has been a matter of survival, even as 89 of them have passed away during the period, owing to illness with a majority of them unable to meet the medical treatment expenses.

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 due to shortage of working capital.

To add to the employees’ woes, a fresh notification was issued by the official liquidator on Monday for e-auction of the two mills in Assam on July 22 at reduced reserve price in the wake of the cancellation of the first auction which was scheduled later this month after no party came up to take part in it by depositing the earnest money of Rs 55 crore.

“The renewed notification for e-auction was issued on Monday with a reduced reserve price of Rs 969 crore (as against the earlier price of Rs 1139 crore). Now will the chief minister, who had earlier this month anticipated none to come forward to buy the paper mills at Rs 1200 crore, be satisfied with the discounted price,” Manabendra Chakraborty, the president of the Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions (JACRU) of Nagaon and Cachar paper mills, told this correspondent on Tuesday.

The date of earnest money deposit is likely on July 6, 2021.

The committee further sniffed a conspiracy being hatched to sell the valuable assets of Assam to a third party at “throwaway prices.”

“Will the government save the two assets of Assam or will it further bring down the reserve price to save the interest of the cronies?,” Chakraborty asked.

The committee further appealed to the state government to immediately release the legal dues, as promised by the chief minister recently, “to save the lives of those who are still alive and struggling for survival.”

“It is the state’s liability to save the lives and property of the citizens as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” he added.

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