“I can’t pay my admission fees or hostel fees due to the financial crisis. My father hasn’t yet received his salary for the past nine months,” said Kripal Hazarika, a MSc student whose father is an employee of the Nagaon Paper Mill.
The State-owned Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited’s Nagaon Paper Mill and Cachar Paper Mill, both formed in 1970, are losing their glory. For the past ten months, employees of both paper mills haven’t received their salary, causing an acute financial crisis.
“We have received a notice from the bank regarding non-payment of a loan, they said that they’ll seal our property within two months,” Kripal added.
The closure of the Nagaon and Cachar Paper Mill in 2015, has increased the woes of the family members of the mill employees. The had one lakh tonne capacity each and received several awards including the Mini Ratna status in 2009.
Massive bamboo flowering in Mizoram in 2009-10 was the first thing to hit bamboo supply to the two mills.Non-renewal of the bamboo supply deal by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is a more recent reason for cuts in the supply of bamboo to both the mills, contributing to their closure: Cachar in October 2015 and Nagaon in March 2016.
“Certain corrupt activities inside the mill have led to this situation. My mother is diabetic patient, and a huge amount of expenses are incurred for her treatment every month. How we will pay the expenses?” wrote Md. Hadiul Ali, son of Sadek Ali, an employee of NPM, in a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Assam.
Hundreds of children of NPM employees wrote the letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Assam’s Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressing their pain. They’re yet to receive a reply.
“I’m currently pursuing Masters in Economics, and I’m not able to pay my semester fees. It seems my future is in the dark. For a few corrupt person, why should we suffer?” wrote Hadiul.
Other reasons which contributed to the closure of both the mills are the irregular supply of fuel due to National Green Tribunal’s ban on coal mining in Meghalaya, and shutdown of a vital caustic and chlorine plant of NPM by Pollution Control Board.
Around 750 people working in Cachar mill have not received their salaries since October 2016, while those at Nagaon are not paid since December last year.
“Because of liabilities, people who were drawing ₹50,000-100,000 were suddenly penniless. Two of our colleagues who didn’t save enough for such a situation committed suicide in May,” said Atanu Mahanta, vice-president of NPM Officers and Supervisors Association, to the Hindustan Times
“Ten others are psychologically scarred after receiving police notice for loan default. We desperately need ₹900 crore of a proposed revival package of ₹1,500 crore for HPC to restart the mills before things get worse,” Mahanta added.
Around 30 students could not take admissions this year as their parents were unable to pay fees. People are living in severe financial hardship and facing a uncertain future.
“I’m now working in a private school as a teacher. I completed my graduation in 2016,” said Kashmiree Sarmah.
“I want to continue further studies but due to the financial crisis in my family, I think won’t be able to do it. I request honourable Prime Minister Modiji to do something for us,” Kashmiree added.
According to a highly placed source, a revival package plan worth ₹1,347 crore submitted by the Ministry of Heavy Industries has been pending with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
Many people tried contacting the Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Babul Supriyo through Twitter regarding the government’s stand on the revival of both the mills. He tweeted, “I’m sincerely working on HPCL, will give some news soon.”
Working on it•Some in-roads made but it not yet time for me 2 say anything•But I will https://t.co/WPjL9rwMNM
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) August 6, 2017
“Dada, I don’t buy toys anymore, my parents have to withdraw my music and art classes,” said an 8-year old girl to this author sadly.
If the employees of both the mills, Cachar and Nagaon do not receive their salary then the future of thousand students is in dark. The government must look into this immediately without any delay.