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How Sudden Unemployment Of Factory Workers In Assam Is Affecting Their Kids

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“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.”

“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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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