Assam’s jailed anti- Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) activist and MLA Akhil Gogoi on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the Centre’s proposal to auction the two state-owned, now-defunct Hindustan Paper Mill Corporation Limited (HPMCL) mills.
The two paper mills – Cachar Paper Mill in southern Assam’s Hailakandi and Nagaon Paper Mill in central Assam’s Morigaon district – have been defunct since 2015 and 2017 respectively, and are going under the hammer as auctioning to liquidate their assets will begin from June 15.
“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 production, increase bamboo production in Assam and scale-up paper distribution all over India,” the independent MLA from Sibsagar said.
“This was a matter of sheer happiness not only for those beleaguered employees, but also for Assam’s industrial prospects. However, the latest notice for an e-auction would indeed be a severe blow to all those promises,” Mr Gogoi further added.
Emphasising that the two plants were symbols of modern Assam’s economic prosperity after the oil and tea sectors, Mr Gogoi said in the letter, “I hope you would look into the matter urgently so that the e-auctioning of the Nagaon and Cachar Mills could be cancelled.”
The shutting down of operations in the two mills have left over 1,200 employees beleaguered due to non-payment of monetary dues.
In June 2018, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) directed initiation of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 against HPC, which had earlier submitted a Rs 1,995-crore revival proposal to the government.
During the hearing, the NCLT ordered liquidation of the two mills, although the BJP-led state government had been promising revival of the two plants since former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal assumed power in 2016. However, after several rounds of meetings between all stakeholders and a number of hearings, the NCLT on April 26 ordered the liquidator to sell HPC, as per the decision of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
The reserve price for bids in the auction has been fixed at Rs. 1,139 crore and the last date of submission is June 15. The auction is slated for June 30.
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