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Labour Politics

Assam paper mill auction: Employees’ unions demand revival

Two paper mills that have been defunct for over five years, employees lost their only source of income

Nanda Ghosh 04 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:insidene.com

It’s been just a month since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government returned to power after the results were announced for the Assam state Assembly Elections. And now, the central government has already started implementing policies that are being wisely seen as anti-Assam and anti-people.

It has announced the auction of two paper mills, one in Cachar and another in Nagaon. The auction is scheduled for June 30, 2021. Both the mills are now defunct. Production stopped at the Cachar mill on October 20, 2015 and at the Nagaon mill from March 13, 2017. However, this was done without even a proper closure notice! These mills were huge public sector undertakings and when they shut down, it was the end of a stable source of livelihood for hundreds of people.

Meanwhile, the wages of about 1,200 employees of the mill have been suspended for more than 50 months. The factory workers have failed to get their dues despite many protests. According to the mill workers’ union, at least 87 employees have died since the mills stopped functioning; some from anxiety due to the sudden shut down, and some because they were unable to afford medical assistance when they fell ill.

This stings more because Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself assured that the mills would be revived. While campaigning for the 2021 Assam assembly elections, Union Minister Amit Shah also promised that the paper mills would be revived.

But now it turns out that the auction process is already underway! On June 1, 2021, Kuldip Barma, Liquidator of Hindustan paper Corporation Ltd. notified that an auction will be held on June 30 of 2021 from 10 A.M to 6 P.M via this advertisement that appeared in newspapers shocking people in Assam.

The reserve price has been set at Rs. 1,139 crores. However, as per notification, the minimum incremental bid is only Rs 1 crore and the EMD amount has been set at Rs 55 crores.

Shocked by this, Manabendra Chakrabarty of the Joint Action Committee of Recognised Union (JACRU), a union of employees of both mills, told SabrangIndia, “The auction process must be stopped immediately. This is important for socio-economic development and protection of future generations. Save employment and save the lives of dying workers.” He added, “If Kerala government was able to revive the mills in their state, then why not the Assam government? If the state government wants, they can. Let the Chief Minister of the state revive the two mills. He can.”

A people’s group called Forum for Social Harmony, Assam strongly protested this anti-people policy of the government. On June 2, 2021 Sushmita Dev, National President of All India Mahila Congress Committee who belongs to Cachar (Barak Valley) wrote a letter to Himanta Bisa Sarma, the new chief minister of Assam, saying, “These industries have given good dividends in the past and were viable,” adding that with efficient management, “these mills can thrive and provide employment to the youth of Assam.”

Dev’s entire letter may be read here: 

Related:

New MSME Board appoints many non-official members with BJP links
BJP’s election manifesto in Assam promises “corrected” NRC, end of “Love Jihad”
Does the Assam MSME Ordinance threaten indigenous land in the state?

Assam paper mill auction: Employees’ unions demand revival

Two paper mills that have been defunct for over five years, employees lost their only source of income

Image Courtesy:insidene.com

It’s been just a month since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government returned to power after the results were announced for the Assam state Assembly Elections. And now, the central government has already started implementing policies that are being wisely seen as anti-Assam and anti-people.

It has announced the auction of two paper mills, one in Cachar and another in Nagaon. The auction is scheduled for June 30, 2021. Both the mills are now defunct. Production stopped at the Cachar mill on October 20, 2015 and at the Nagaon mill from March 13, 2017. However, this was done without even a proper closure notice! These mills were huge public sector undertakings and when they shut down, it was the end of a stable source of livelihood for hundreds of people.

Meanwhile, the wages of about 1,200 employees of the mill have been suspended for more than 50 months. The factory workers have failed to get their dues despite many protests. According to the mill workers’ union, at least 87 employees have died since the mills stopped functioning; some from anxiety due to the sudden shut down, and some because they were unable to afford medical assistance when they fell ill.

This stings more because Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself assured that the mills would be revived. While campaigning for the 2021 Assam assembly elections, Union Minister Amit Shah also promised that the paper mills would be revived.

But now it turns out that the auction process is already underway! On June 1, 2021, Kuldip Barma, Liquidator of Hindustan paper Corporation Ltd. notified that an auction will be held on June 30 of 2021 from 10 A.M to 6 P.M via this advertisement that appeared in newspapers shocking people in Assam.

The reserve price has been set at Rs. 1,139 crores. However, as per notification, the minimum incremental bid is only Rs 1 crore and the EMD amount has been set at Rs 55 crores.

Shocked by this, Manabendra Chakrabarty of the Joint Action Committee of Recognised Union (JACRU), a union of employees of both mills, told SabrangIndia, “The auction process must be stopped immediately. This is important for socio-economic development and protection of future generations. Save employment and save the lives of dying workers.” He added, “If Kerala government was able to revive the mills in their state, then why not the Assam government? If the state government wants, they can. Let the Chief Minister of the state revive the two mills. He can.”

A people’s group called Forum for Social Harmony, Assam strongly protested this anti-people policy of the government. On June 2, 2021 Sushmita Dev, National President of All India Mahila Congress Committee who belongs to Cachar (Barak Valley) wrote a letter to Himanta Bisa Sarma, the new chief minister of Assam, saying, “These industries have given good dividends in the past and were viable,” adding that with efficient management, “these mills can thrive and provide employment to the youth of Assam.”

Dev’s entire letter may be read here: 

Related:

New MSME Board appoints many non-official members with BJP links
BJP’s election manifesto in Assam promises “corrected” NRC, end of “Love Jihad”
Does the Assam MSME Ordinance threaten indigenous land in the state?

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