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Paper Mill: Today completes the 36th month of employees living without salaries

As the sun sets for the last time this year most of us are busy figuring out the party scenes to bring in the new year. In the Hindustan Paper Mill’s township, the residents are wondering if they are headed towards the sunset of their lives. Today marks the end of the 36th month of Hindustan Paper Mill employees living without their monthly salaries.

Earlier this month, close to 350 families living in the quarters of the Paper Mill got stunned after they read an order asking them to vacate the quarters by January 31, 2020. HPC Paper Mills Revival Action Committee and several other organisations made it clear that they will not vacate the quarters unless their salaries, provident fund, arrears, and other pending employee benefits are cleared. The order resulted in a huge protest forcing industry minister of Assam Chandra Mohan Patowary to make a comment.

Patowary said in a press conference that no one will have to vacate their quarters as the Government of Assam is looking into the matter. “I don’t see any reason for us to believe him as he has lied on several occasions before. Our stand is very clear, if they want us to vacate the quarters they will have to take our dead bodies out of it. First, they stripped us of our salaries and other employee benefits and now they want to take our shelter away, we won’t let that happen,” said Manabendra Chakraborty, chief convenor of HPC Paper Mills Revival Action Committee.

Meanwhile, yesterday a student sat on the road to sell eggs to collect money as he needs to pay his semester fees. He posted on Facebook, “The government has not paid salaries of 36 months to Employees of Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC). And recently, they have sent an order to vacant their quarters. Where will we go ?? Does any party really care about Northeast? So, here i’m selling eggs outside HPC headquarter campus.”

His post said he is a student pursuing engineering and his semester fees are due. “We are not beggers. We are not asking for favours. We are asking the government to release our pending salaries, something that we have worked and earned. People are unable to pay fees, cover treatment costs and the government is sitting idle and giving us false assurances,” Chakraborty added.

The prime minister of India Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal and many others central and state ministers promised to revive the mills but all turned out to be blatant lies or fake promises to rake in votes.

As we wine and dine to bring in 2020, a new year, a new decade, there will be many in Cachar and Nagaon Paper Mill who will sleep hungry and wake up starving.

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