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Death Toll of HPC Mill Staff Rises to 116 in Assam

The employees have not been paid their dues in around six years.
 HPC Mill

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Delhi: Another paper mill employee of Cachar Paper Mill, a closed unit of the defunct Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC), passed away on Monday following a cardiac arrest. 

The deceased identified as Tushar Kanti Mishra, a resident of the Chengkuri area in Silchar, was 59. 

Manabendra Chakraborty, president of the Joint Action Committee of Recognized Unions (JACRU) told the Assam Tribune on Tuesday that the death toll of HPC Mill staff, including Nagaon Paper Mill, has risen to 116 now. The death toll includes four instances of committed suicides.

The employees have not been paid their dues in around six years.

Chakraborty mentioned that last year, the Mill was taken over by the state government led by Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma with a relief package to save lives. "But it is pertinent to note that the irreparable damages already caused earlier, now resulting in deaths one after another, thus the responsibilities of all such deaths lies with the Government of India and the former Chief Ministers respectively who have bitterly failed to resolve the crisis on time,” he told the Assam Tribune.

"We once again echo our demand that the Central Government must remit the complete dues at the earliest,” the JACRU president added.

NewsClick has reported in the past that both paper mills were declared insolvent on June 13, 2018, as per a National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order after the HPCL had declared itself unable to pay the dues of one its creditors.

Reportedly, over 1,200 employees from the two mills are yet to get their remaining dues, including pensions, salaries, provident funds and others.

Meanwhile, the employees of the defunct paper mills have repeatedly hit the streets demanding their rights over the past several years, including extreme forms of protest such as declaring to die by mass suicide. 

On the other hand, the central and state governments have made several commitments, including PM Modi’s assurance to revive the two mills in 2016 during a rally in Panchagram ahead of the state Assembly elections. The former chief minister of the state, Sarbananda Sonowal had also made a similar announcement of restarting production in the mills within six months on November 2017, which has not yielded any results.

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