Silchar: A desperate call in the form of SOS has been made to the Prime Minister of the country by an all united movement of common people for revival of paper mills at Panchgram and Jagiroad. The Joint Forum of People on Wednesday sent a letter to the PM through the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, seeking his immediate intervention for saving the lives of hundreds of employees, their dependent family members as well as those directly or indirectly connected with the mills. The pathetic tale is that due to non-payment of salaries and dues for the last two and half years, the letter adds, 55 employees have already died and the spectre of starvation is stalking some others.
The children of the distressed families can no more pursue their studies. Shocking, the Centre is yet to be informed of the deaths and the plight of families. Still stunning, the mills have been closed arbitrarily with huge stocks of unused raw materials, worth crores of rupees. Terming the situation as a calamity, the Joint Forum finds it quite baffling why should not the employees and workers be paid their salaries and dues as directed by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) vide its order of May 29, 2019?
The authorities concerned have also been advised to approach the Union Government for payment of salaries and wages and to bring back the situation where the mills will not be an enterprise closed down but a going concern. The letter at the same time refers to the budgetary allocation of Rs 90 crore in 2018-19 for payment of salaries and wages of employees which was passed in the Parliament. Strangely enough, the payment till date has been held up on the pretext of some technicalities.
The Joint Forum finds behind such move a whiff of conspiracy to sabotage the mills in the interest of some private players. It is equally incomprehensible why profit making public sector enterprises should face closure. Both the mills before their closure, claims the Joint Forum, have contributed crores of rupees to the exchequer of the Centre and as a natural course of justice some part of the earnings should be ploughed back to revive them.
The Joint Forum also questions the logic behind the closure or shut down when the demand for paper is increasing and the same has to be imported in bulk. This is also in glaring contrast to the thrust of the Modi government on ‘Make in India’ and Act East Policy. Considered against the pathetic physical and mental condition of the employees and their families, the Joint Forum demands immediate payment of salaries and dues as well as arrears to them out of the allocated sum of Rs 90 crore, revival of the mills under Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd at Panchgram, Jagiroad, Tuli and Kottayam and payment of all dues related to social benefit schemes accrued or deducted. The letter has been signed by joint conveners of the Forum, Charvac and Supriyo Bhattacharjee.
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