Another Cachar Paper Mill employee died after being unable to pay medical bills, bringing the total number of workers dead at the two “closed” Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) paper mills in Assam to 103.
Rajendra Kumar Daloi, a 58-year-old Cuttack resident, was suffering from kidney disease. On Monday night, he passed away.
“Due to non-payment of salary for the past five years and subsequent financial crisis, Daloi, like many other workers, could not afford medical treatment,” Manobendra Chakraborty, president of the Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions (JACRU) of the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills, said on Wednesday.
Since October 2015 and March 2017, the Cachar Paper Mill in Panchgram, Hailakandi district, and the Nagaon Paper Mill in Jagiroad, Morigaon, have been closed.
“Every living mill worker is passing days with unimaginable anguish, stress, and trauma, and has now lost all hope of leading a dignified life because the government has not paid their salary for the previous 63 months,” Chakraborty added.
“On the other hand, despite pledging to issue the relief package to bail out the workers, the Assam government has failed to do so,” he said.
Assam Govt took assets of HPCL paper mills
It should be noted that the Assam government took over the assets of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) paper mills in Jagiroad and Panchgram on March 28, 2022.
Moreover, the government had previously offered a Rs 700 crore general relief package, which included the settlement of various outstanding dues of employees and workers of HPCL’s properties at Nagaon and Cachar paper mills.
At the Cabinet meeting on September 30, 2021, the relief package was approved.
AIDC, the nodal agency, in this case, had participated in the e-auction process of all Nagaon and Cachar paper mill assets, plant, technical area, and township area pursuant to a public notification on February 26, 2022, at a reserve price of Rs 375 crore.
The state government has paid Rs 375 crore, which will be divided by the liquidator according to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016 rules.
However, the remaining Rs 700 crore would be used to pay off the debts of HPCL’s employees and workers.