Cachar Paper Mill and Nagaon Paper Mill are two defunct paper mills of government-run Hindustan paper Corporation in Assam. On June 1, bids were sought for the e-auction of HPC in accordance with the National Company Law Tribunal’s order.
All HPC assets, including the two mills, residential flats, office assets and a huge stock of inventory such as coal, unslaked lime, bamboo and limestone, will go under the hammer in the auction. The reserve price for bids has been fixed at Rs 1,139 crore and the last date of submission is June 15. The auction is slated for June 30.
However, Raijor Dal chief and Sivasagar MLA Akhil Gogoi has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop the auctioning of the two closed paper mills and ensure the revival of the factories. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.
The Cachar Paper Mill has been non-operational since October 2015, while the Nagaon mill in Jagiroad stopped operations in March 2017. Staff at both mills haven’t received their salaries since January and March of 2017 respectively.
In the letter to the Prime Minister, Gogoi wrote, “We plead that the Union Government should urgently take measures to revive and modernize these industries keeping up in tandem with the best professional practices so as to convert them from loss-making entity to profitable enterprises like the Navaratnas and Maharatnas of India.”
The MLA has also cited some examples where paper mills were revived after they stopped operations like the NEPA paper mill of Madhya Pradesh and the Hindustan Newsprint Limited of Kerala. Gogoi said that the aforementioned mills can be a model to add a new lease of life to the Nagaon and Cachar Paper mills.
He also urged to “consider the optimal utilization of the vast expanse of lands that these industries currently own and further develop it into industrial zones for Assam's MSME industries.”
Akhil Gogoi in the letter also said, “The Bharatiya Janata Party was kind enough to recognise the plight of these industries. In April 2021 promises were made that the BJP-led government in Assam will not only revive the paper mills but augment paper production…However, the latest notice for an e-auction would indeed be a severe blow to all promises.” It must be noted that in response to public appeals, the BJP since 2016 had been promising to revive the mills.
"I hope you would look into the matter urgently so that the e-auctioning of the Nagaon and Cachar Mills could be cancelled.", Gogoi appealed to the Prime Minister.
Ever since the operations were stopped, many employees have not been paid their pensions, salaries and provident funds. Families and children of the employees struggled to continue their education. Reports suggest that at least 87 of the employees had lost their lives due to the severe financial crisis and some even committed suicide.