Guwahati, Jun 5: The Congress' Assam unit on Saturday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop the auction of two closed paper mills of government- run Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC) and ensure revival of the factories.
The HPC's Cachar unit in Panchgram ceased to function since October 2015, while the Nagaon mill in Jagiroad stopped operating from March 2017. No salary was paid to the staff of Cachar and Nagaon units since January and March of 2017 respectively. In a letter to the prime minister, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Ripun Bora urged him to recall the auction notice issued by the official liquidator on June one, and also advise and assist the state government in reviving the two mills.
A copy of the letter was sent to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Bora pointed out that the Prime Minister had made repeated commitments during the election campaigns of 2016, 2019 and 2021 that the two paper mills would be revived by giving a special economic package. Other senior BJP leaders, including Sarma and his predecessor Sarbananda Sonowal, had also assured the people of the state that the two paper mills would be revised at any cost as it is the "lifeline of the people of Brahmaputra and Barak Valley", the Rajya Sabha MP said.
Against this backdrop, the employees of these two paper mills, their family members, bamboo growers and suppliers, unemployed youths, small businessmen and the people of the state in general expect that the government will not take the hard decision to sell the two paper mills built on over 2000 acre of land to private parties, he said. "I urge you to explore a comprehensive plan of revival of the two paper mills, prior to its sale to a third party in the same way the Kerala government took over Hindustan Newsprint Limited, a subsidiary of the HPC," Bora said.
There is every possibility that the state government can protect these two public sector undertakings to "honour their commitments to the people of Assam and the Centre may please assist the state government in this regard", he added. The employees of the two mills have not been paid their salaries for the last several years, he said adding that many of them lost their lives due to lack of medical treatment while several others died by suicide out of depression, he said. "Considering the present economic condition and pandemic situation, you are requested to release all the outstanding salaries, allowances and other dues to the employees and officers of the two paper mills without further delay," Bora's letter to Modi read.
A delegation of opposition AIUDF, a part of the Congress-led Grand Alliance, called on the chief minister on Friday night and urged him to take steps to stop the sale of the two paper mills. All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev had on June 2 urged Sarma to ensure the revival of the two closed paper mills.