SILCHAR: Unable to move both the Centre and the State government for the revival of paper mills under the management of Hindustan Paper Mill Corporation, the employees of all levels of both the mills at Panchgram in Cachar and Jagiroad in Nagaon have planned to stage protest rallies during the poll campaigns of ruling party candidates.
Pointing out that “Reopening of the mills is necessary for employment generation and socio-economic rejuvenation”, the chief convener of the ‘HPC Paper Mills Revival Action Committee’, Manobendra Chakraborty said, “but it has been a matter of great pain and anguish that the salary of the employees has been held up for the last 27 months causing acute distress to them. The Parliament on the recommendation of the President of India and as notified by the Centre had approved Rs 90 crore for the payment of salary to the struggling employees. Still, it has not been released.” This, he said has “resulted in the death of 51 employees mainly due to starvation”. The sanction of Rs 90 crore was notified on August 27, 2018.
He added that “there has been no response from the Centre nor from the State” to their series of correspondences with them for reopening of the mills. “Nor have their commitments made on March 27, 2016 and November 18, 2017 to the people of Assam been given effect to,” he pointed out.
The Revival Demand Committee at the same time referred to the assurances of the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises on the floor of the Parliament that the employees would be paid their salaries, besides reviving the paper mills. But, it also turned out to be a hoax. The Committee said that “the struggle is continuing and will continue till the Centre and the State government concede to their demands.”
In order to further reinforce their agitation, the Committee has adopted a two-pronged strategy. They would hold protest demonstrations during the election campaigns by the ruling party candidates and would also make the people aware of their demands and the indifferent attitude of the Centre and the State. Besides demanding that the paper mill revival package pending at the PMO be immediately activated, the Committee also demanded payment of Rs 20 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of the employees who died in harness.
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