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Assam govt to acquire Hindustan Paper Corporation’s assets

Wednesday, 29 Sep 2021
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The Assam government will acquire the assets of the two closed mills of Hindustan Paper Corporation, and provide a relief package of Rs 570 crore to its employees. 
 
Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district is non-functional since October 2015, while Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district is shut since March 2017. 
 
The agreement was signed and as per the agreement, the Assam government will approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) through the official liquidator for taking over all the assets of the mills and the employees' organisations will ensure that the houses, premises, buildings and other assets are smoothly handed over without any hindrances and is not disputed in the court of law. 
 
The relief amount of Rs 570 crore will be given to the employees only after they vacate the property. An extension of one month may be given to vacate the quarters. 
 
The state government will make efforts to disburse the relief package, include employment, within two months from the date of approval by NCLT. 
 
The state government will provide employment to 100 officers and workers according to their qualifications and equivalent to the pay scale in the state government through a special recruitment drive, which will not take into consideration their upper age limit. 
 
They will be provided with the due PF, gratuity and pension, but not the unpaid salary.
 
The government will also facilitate the employees who could not complete their services due to the closure of the mills to get employment on a priority basis in the industries on the land of the paper mills in future. 
 
The agreement took into consideration the unpaid provident fund (PF) contributions, gratuity, pension claims, salaries and other dues from the date of non-payment to the date of commencement of the liquidation process.
 
It will also provide a gratuitous relief to the cooperative contractual workers to ensure that they get minimum subsistence, while LIC premium and home loan EMIs deducted from salary would be paid by the government, following admission by the liquidator. 
 
The state government will also take up with the Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) Sangathan to convert the KVs located in the mill compounds from project to civil sector, and help the wards of mill employees in these schools to get admission in any other KVs of their choice.
 
All employees who have already attained the age of 58 would be provided pensions through respective PF commissioners at Guwahati and Kolkata, which was deducted from their salaries but not deposited.
 
It will provide permanent government jobs to doctors, ANMs and other paramedical staff of the mills' health establishments at the entry-level, while teachers of schools in the mill compounds will be provided a relief to the extent of 24 months of salary, PF, gratuity and the pension, which was deducted from their salaries.
 
The NCLT, after several rounds of meetings between all stakeholders and a number of hearings, had ordered the liquidator on 26 April 2021 to sell the Hindustan Paper Corporation as per the decision of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). 
 
Accordingly, liquidator Kuldeep Verma on 1 June 2021 had issued advertisements, seeking bids for the e-auction of the company at a reserve price of Rs 1,139 crore but there were no bidders till the last date on 15 June 2021. 
 
Subsequently, on 22 June 2021, a new auction notice for the sale of the two mills was issued by the liquidator at a reserve price of Rs 969 crore, Rs 170 lower than the previous price. 
 
The liquidator had also issued notices to 900 employees on 3 September 2021 asking them to vacate the accommodation/quarters occupied within 15 days by handing vacant, physical and peaceful possession to the liquidator failing which legal action will be taken for getting back vacant possession of the accommodation/quarters. 
 
The notice, which was later temporarily stayed, was issued individually to all the occupants and also sent to all employees' associations/workers' unions of the defunct paper mills.
 
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