The much contentious auction of the Cachar & Nagaon Paper Mills was called off after no one participated in the auction slated for June 30. In response to advertisements issued in newspapers on June 1 seeking bids for e-auction of the Hindustan Paper Corporation, no one came forward with the Earnest Money of 55 crores that had to be deposited by 6 PM on June 15. In the auction, all of HPC's assets, including the two mills, residential flats in Guwahati, Kolkata, and Mumbai, office assets in Kolkata and New Delhi, and a huge stock of inventory such as coal, unslaked lime, bamboo and limestone are to go under the hammer.
However, on June 22, Liquidator Kuldeep Verma issued a new auction notice for the sale of HPC at a reduced price of 969 Crore Rupees. This is 170 Crores less than the earlier price of 1139 Crore Rupees. The new EMD amount is 48 Crore Rupees which has to be deposited by 6 PM on July 6. The new date for the e-auction is July 22.
However, the Joint Action Committee of Recognized Unions (JACRU) has asked if the Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma will now take initiative to save these industries or the price will be reduced further to sell the assets of the mills at “throwaway prices to serve the interests of cronies”.
JACRU further states that it is against the national interest to import paper from China, Indonesia and Bangladesh while destroying national industries. It appealed to the government to honour its policy of Atmanirbhar Bharat and to discontinue the import of paper from other nations.
It also appealed to the Chief Minister to release the pending salaries of workers as topmost priority. It must be noted that employees at the Cachar and Nagaon Paper Mills haven’t received their salaries since January and March of 2017 respectively. HPCs Cachar Paper Mill in Panchgram had stopped operations on October 20, 2015, while the Nagaon Paper Mill in Jagiroad did so on March 31, 2017. The JACRU alleges that 89 employees have so far died struggling because of the non-payment of salaries with four of them having died by suicide allegedly for the same reason.