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Employees meet Dilip Paul for revival of paper mill

FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

 SILCHAR, June 11: Cachar Paper Mill located at Panchgram, 30 km from here, has been in the news for its being in a dire strait for various reasons, manmade and tural. For the last 8 months, the Mill has been shut down and the employees are in a state of confusion about its very future. In order to find a way out, a delegation of Joint Action Committee of Cachar Paper Mill led by Mabendra Chakraborty met Dilip Kumar Paul, Deputy Speaker, at his residence on Friday and apprised him of the present situation, seeking his support for taking up the matter with Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal.

 During one hour discussion, the Joint Action Committee members briefed the Deputy Speaker about the reasons behind the present condition of the Mill. They wanted the revival of the Mill and at the same time a high level probe into all the allegations of corruption which have crippled its functioning. They also gave the impression any solution adopted by the Centre would be accepted by them without any protest. Dilip Kumar Paul was given a memorandum, detailing the mess in which the Mill has fallen.

 The Deputy Speaker assured that he would discuss the matter with Parimal Shuklabaidya, Minister of PWD, Excise and Fisheries, and both of them would raise the affairs of the Mill with the Chief Minister. Dilip Kumar Paul told the delegation the condition of Jagiroad Paper Mill was not any different. Both the mills deserve immediate attention for bringing them on the steam. The Chief Minister had already taken up the issue with the central leaders and he was hopeful some way out would be found.

 Mabendra Chakraborty said as the Mill has to be shut down from October 20 last, the accumulated loss has come around Rs.250 crore. This is in addition to all the losses in crores of rupees as the Mill went into trouble since 2009. The burden on the public exchequer is huge. There have been specific allegations for all the ills in the Mill. Most important among them is the political interference in unholy nexus with corrupt elements inside. Along with that mismagement has been on the front. Insiders speak of how raw materials like bamboo, coal, lime etc. were purchased at higher cost. A vicious circle has been active to reap benefits at the cost of the Mill.

 In view of the unbridled corruption since the beginning of the Mill, the Joint Action Committee has demanded that CBI inquiry should be caused in order to unearth the persons involved, past and present. It is true that there has been setback to the Mill due to the scarcity in supply of bamboo from Mizoram because of flowering. Besides, the tiol Green Tribul (NGT) imposed ban on coal mining in Meghalaya which hampered transportation of the raw materials. The memorandum submitted to the Deputy Speaker gave specific suggestions for its revival.

 The shut down has led to rotting of bamboos worth Rs.42 crore. Machines valued at Rs.200 crore are rusting and turning into jinx. The closure has also caused adverse socio-economic impact with around 1 lakh persons becoming unemployed, directly and indirectly. Besides, the small farmers engaged in bamboo farming have been also affected economically. Considering the importance of the 1 lakh metric ton capacity paper mill, the only public sector undertaking (PSU) in Barak Valley, the Joint Action Committee has impressed upon Dilip Kumar Paul to ensure that some positive move is made to revive it.

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Ankur Kalita