RANGIYA, Aug 18 - APOL, the indigenous clothing mill at Tulsibari here has been non-functional since the past few years. Functioning came to a total standstill after the only working spinning section of the mill had to be stopped in 2016 following a long-drawn series of financial problems.
The chairman of APOL mill Narendra Sarma while speaking to this correspondent said that the mill requires a sizeable amount of funds as it has pending ASEB bills to settle, besides meeting expenses of several other items.
�The Assam government had allocated an amount of Rs 12.10 crore for the purpose of VRS expenditure to several employees. With the said fund, we have settled all VRS issues, except one,� the chairman said, adding that �the government had sanctioned Rs 4.26 crore in 2018 for revival of the mill, though we are yet to get Rs 5.85 crore out of the total sanctioned amount of Rs 12.10 crore.�
�The mill was inspected by a technical team from south India for feasibility aspects to continue functioning. At present, the mill desperately requires government funds so that unsettled issues can be attended to and it can be made free from debt,� he added.
In the meantime, a fresh proposal with detailed specifications amounting to nearly Rs 23 crore has been submitted to the Chief Minister for the purpose of revival of APOL mill. �We are planning to allow VRS option to those willing workers or staff if they so opt owing to health or age-related issues and are thinking of reviving the mill with adequate skilled or semi-skilled manpower. We have initiated every possible step to highlight the plight of the APOL mill workers and the government has already undertaken some steps to release a portion of the allocated funds, though we are yet to receive it.�
We had several sittings with our Board of Directors and the State government agency for uplift of the mill. Following stoppage of work, most workers and staff have become jobless and are now engaged as daily wagers, petty hotel owners or in such other meagre livelihoods.
A series of protests have already been organised by several organisations, including student bodies like AASU. Local people and mill workers and the management have urged the local MLA Bhabesh Kalita, sitting Mangaldai MP Dilip Saikia and Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita to do the needful for early revival of the mill and make it functional.
It is in the fitness of things that the concerned policy makers and authorities need to give more attention to the APOL mill and its workers, or else the mill will soon perish beyond revival, the chairman opined.