HAILAKANDI, April 9 - Employees and workers of the defunct Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district are facing tremendous difficulties due to the lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the state.
It may be mentioned here that the Cachar Paper Mill was closed on October 20, 2015 and the Nagaon Paper Mill on March 13, 2017. The employees have not been getting salaries for more than three years.
Altogether 64 employees of both the Cachar Paper Mill and Nagaon Paper Mill have died after the closure of the mills. Of them, three had committed suicide.
Azizur Rahman Mazumder, the general secretary of the Cachar Paper Workers and Employees� Union (Independent), has urged the Hailakandi Deputy Commissioner to take immediate steps for providing relief to the �unpaid workers� and employees of the defunct mills during the lockdown period.
The union also demanded uninterrupted supply of drinking water, food items, medical treatment, and all sorts of benefits under schemes of the Central government, irrespective of BPL and non-BPL categories.
The union also urged the government to take urgent steps to restart the mills for the economic benefit of both the employees and the government.
Mazumder said that most of the employees are ill and cannot go for treatment due to this financial crisis. The children of the employees are now even begging in various parts of Barak Valley to meet the expenditure of their education, he lamented.
Mazumder said the situation may worsen if the government does not help out the employees during the lockdown.
A memorandum has been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited Officers and Supervisors� Association, demanding immediate release of long-pending salaries of all staff of the mill.
The memorandum said the employees have not got their salary for over three years, and the retired employees have been deprived of their provident fund, gratuity and pension.
The memorandum stated that many employees are suffering from various diseases like cancer, kidney failure, coronary and cerebral stroke and neurological disorders and they are counting their days as they have no money to afford medical treatment. The careers of many children have been ruined.
The association said that the Prime Minister, during an election campaign in Barak Valley on March 27, 2016, had assured that the Cachar Paper Mill, would be revived if the BJP came to power. But nothing has happened till date.
Manabendra Chakraborty, president of the association, added that the workers are in serious trouble due to the global spread of the disease.
Asked about the release of ration to residents of Panchgram township during the lockdown period, Ganesh Choudhury, the Additional Director of Food and Civil Supplies, Hailakandi, said they have provided 5 kg rice per person and 5 kg more would be distributed after April 15.
The district administration also plans to provide Rs 1,000 cash to persons who do not have ration cards, an official said.