HPC Cachar Mill Workers’ Union Demands CAG Investigation Into Modi Govt’s Claim Of Investing Rs 4,141 Crore In Mills’ Revival
"Either the government is lying or the money has been released and siphoned off."
The Cachar Paper Project Workers’ Union on Friday, July 12, wrote to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, Rajiv Mehrishi, demanding a high-level investigation in connection with the investment of Rs 4,141 crore made by the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government from 2014 to 2018 in the Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC) Limited.
The matter surfaced after the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, on July 9, mentioned in a written reply in the Lok Sabha that Rs 1,141 crore had been released for HPC in 2014-15, and Rs 1,000 crore in 2015-16, Rs 1,000 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 1,000 crore in 2017-18. The ministry noted that the money was meant for “streamlining the mechanism for revival and restructuring of sick/incipient sick and weak Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs)”.
The Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in the Hailakandi district and the Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in the Morigaon district in Assam — units of HPC — have been lying non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017, respectively. The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had ordered the liquidation of the two mills on May 2, 2019.
The union, in its letter, noted that the production in both units was suspended during the period between 2014 and 2018, and employees were not paid their salaries. “A single penny has not been invested; either the government is lying or the money has been released and siphoned off. How can the NCLT order liquidation if money was paid for its revival? Why were the salaries not paid?” Manabendra Chakraborty, chief convener of the Mills Revival Action Committee and president of the Cachar Paper Project Workers’ Union, told NewsCentral24x7.
Salaries of the employees have not been paid for more than two years. Chakraborty underlined that 57 workers have prematurely died, including three who have committed suicide, unable to face financial burdens due to non-payment of salaries and statutory dues.
Following the NCLT order, the union had approached the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, which directed the liquidator to provide a revival package and release the workers’ pending salaries.