Threatening to hold indefinite protests, the Rising People’s Party (RPP) has appealed to the Nagaland government to pay the pending salaries of Tuli Paper Mill or Nagaland Pulp and Paper Company Limited (NPPCL) employees without any delay.
The Joint Action Committee, comprising members of both workers and pensioners of NPPCL, has announced an indefinite protest along National Highway 61 at Tzudikong from August 12 to demand their salaries and pensions. The employees and pensioners of the mill, located at Tuli in Mokokchung district, have reportedly not been paid since August 2017. The mill stopped its operation in October 1992.
In a statement on July 24, the RPP appealed to the conscience of all the 60 legislators of the Nagaland assembly that the plight of the poor and the hapless people should be the first and foremost priority of any government.
The party said the employees of the mill have been living a nightmarish existence since 1992 when the mill closed down.
Quoting newspaper reports, it said the employees of the mill have not been paid their salaries since August 2017. As of December 2021, the state government owes the paper mill employees Rs 27.33 crore, it stated.
“It staggers belief that any government can be so immune to the plight of these employees who have been living hell on earth for the last 30 years,” the RPP said.
Demanding that the state government should have clear-cut policies regarding the future of Tuli Paper Mill, the party said: “If Golden Handshake for the employees is desirable, the government should do it.” The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) coalition government in Nagaland should settle the issue once and for all, it stressed.
The party alleged that the UDA coalition government is buying top SUVs every month worth crores of rupees. According to it, the government has at its disposal thousands of crores earned through GST alone.
The RPP, quoting Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee president K Therie, said, the 21 Naga People’s Front MLAs, who were lured into the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, were paid Rs 2.50 crore each. The money was apparently diverted from the MNREGA fund, it added.
“The UDA coalition is yet to refute this allegation, and therefore the allegation must be true,” the RPP said.
Saying that perhaps hundreds of crores have been spent by now by the opposition-less government by making countless trips to Delhi or Guwahati for “Naga solution”, the party said the UDA coalition does not have money to pay a measly Rs 27 crore to the Tuli mill employees does not make sense.
“Chief minister Rio must do what is right,” it added.