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    The Fate of Assam’s Two Paper Mills & A Long Wait

    Production at Cachar PM has been closed since October 20, 2015, while the HPCL management suspended production at Nagaon PM on March 13, 2017

    GUWAHATI: Its’ been almost 40 months now that the employees of both Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL)’s two Assam based unit- Cachar Paper Mill (CPM) and Nagaon Paper Mill (NPM)—have been living a life of misery, uncertainty and without salary.

    Thanks to the broken promises by the BJP government, including assurance by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, to revive the company. Once a Miniratna award-winning and Schedule-A Public Sector Unit, the HPCL has been now undergoing a liquidation process.

    The two paper mills in Assam which employed more than 1,200 people and was an indirect generator of livelihood for more than two lakh people, have remained shut for more than three years now.

    On Tuesday, Assam Rajya Sabha MP from Congress Ripun Bora once again raised the issue in the Parliament and demanded the Centre to fulfill its promises. Bora said, “Due to the negligence of the government, the two paper mills have been shut down. Many of the employees have died of poverty and some had committed suicides too.”

    He added that reviving the two paper mills has become an urgent necessity in today’s time to stabilize the state’s economy. Bora added, “Due to COVID 19 situation, lakhs of youths have returned to Assam jobless. In such a condition, if the government revives the paper mills it can help in easing the unemployment issue in the state and also help the state’s economy.”

    Last week, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal too sent a letter to PM Modi to revive the paper mills in the state.

    On Monday, the hearing of the liquidation case of the two paper mills did not come up for hearing by the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal), New Delhi after the Secretary, Industries & Commerce Department, Government of Assam, has sought a month’s time for the revival of the closed paper mills. The Secretary in a letter (dated September 10, 2020) also requested the Liquidator of HPCL, Kuldeep Verma, to take up the matter with the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal).

    The Joint Action Committee of Recognized Unions (JACRU) of Nagaon and Cachar Paper Mills, Manabendra Chakraborty said, “The state government has sought one-month time from the liquidator for the revival of the two HPC mills, now the government can raise its proposal during the one week time it has got now. We hope the State government to submit its proposal within a week.”

    Production at Cachar PM has been closed for more than four years now since October 20, 2015, while the HPCL management suspended production at NPM on March 13, 2017. Both companies were declared insolvent on June 13, 2018, as per a National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order after the HPCL had declared itself unable to pay the dues of one its creditors M/s. Alloys and Metals.

    Interestingly, while the Centre has been in contradiction over giving any money to revive the HPCL, it did pump a sum of Rs 469.41 crore into another government-owned PSU, NEPA mill in Madhya Pradesh right before the Assembly polls in the state in November 2018.

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