Assam govt to spend Rs 810 crore to settle issues of two defunct paper mills: CM

Guwahati, Jul 7 (PTI) The Assam government will spend Rs 810 crore to resolve issues concerning two defunct paper mills of Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Thursday.

Out of this amount, banks will have to be paid Rs 150 crore and the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) around Rs 60-80 crore, while the remaining amount will be distributed among the employees of the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills at Jagiroad and Panchgram, Sarma said.

The chief minister was speaking at the ceremonial distribution of the relief package to the paper mill employees here.

The state government will regularise the pension of the retired employees by depositing the due amount, which the HPCL should have paid , with the Provident Fund Commissioner, Sarma said.

The Assam government will also pay the gratuity amount, while the salary of the employees will be deposited by the liquidator, he said.

Appointment letters were also given to 66 employees of the paper mills in various government departments.

A trust will be set up with a corpus of Rs 25 crore, and the interest earned from it will be used to help former employees during any situation of distress.

HPCL’s two paper mills Cachar Paper Mill and Panchgram in Hailakandi district, and Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district have been non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively, with employees not receiving salaries for the past five years.

Today is an important day as we have finally reached a definite conclusion by extending compensatory benefits to ex-employees and ex-workers of the two paper mills, Sarma said.

The chief minister came down heavily on the HPCL management for causing immense pain and hardship to the employees of the paper mills.

The mismanagement and corruption by a section of the management had led to this pathetic situation and I, on behalf of the people of the state, strongly condemn their actions which led to the collapse of the paper mills, he said.

Sarma said since 2014, the state government has taken initiatives to resolve the issue.

In 2021, when the BJP government came to power for the second time, I asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah on how to resolve the issue and after consulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said the state government will have to take over the land and infrastructure of the two paper mills , Sarma said.

Lengthy discussions were held with the liquidator, the workers’ union of both the paper mills and other stakeholders, and finally the modalities were worked out.

He said the state government has bought the lands of the mills, and will make an effort to revive the Cachar paper mill with a private party or as a government venture.

The land of the Nagaon Paper Mill will, however, be developed as part of a permanent capital complex, for the benefit of the people.

An eight-lane superhighway will connect Jagiroad and Guwahati, which will be at the epicentre for extension of satellite townships in three directions, Sarma said.