A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the Congress for the closure of 32,000 industries in Assam, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday retorted that the Centre was to blame for the closure of the Cachar paper mill that has affected the livelihood of one lakh people.Gogoi slammed Modi's "escapist attitude" and said the prime minister had turned a blind eye to the cause of the paper mill, in which production has remained suspended due to shortage of coal.Modi at a public rally on Sunday near the now-defunct paper mill at Panchgram in Cachar blamed the 60 years of Congress rule at Delhi and Dispur for closure of 32,000 small, big and medium size industries in Assam."Prime Minister Narendra Modi's escapist attitude has become apparently evident when he put the blame on the Congress for the closure of the Cachar mill, a unit of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited, which is a central public sector undertaking... the central government is fully responsible for its premature and sudden closure," Gogoi said.
"The NDA government at the Centre has not done anything substantial for the revival of the Cachar paper mill, thereby putting at stake the future of one lakh people directly and indirectly involved in the mill," he said.The Cachar paper mill, which has a capacity of producing one lakh tonnes of paper annually, uses about 550-600 tonnes of coal from Meghalaya every day. The problem started after the National Green Tribunal ordered a ban on unscientific mining of coal in Meghalaya in May last year.On Modi's comment that the Congress government in Assam owes an explanation to the people because of the closure of the paper mill, Gogoi asked why the NDA government which was at the helm of affairs does not take steps for the mill's revival."The Centre should have taken the matter in right earnest with the NGT or facilitate supply of coal to the mill from other sources instead of depending solely on Meghalaya."Without taking any substantive step, the BJP indulged in mud-slinging and is playing with the sentiments of the people of Assam," Gogoi said.Asking Modi what steps have been taken by the Centre in the last two years for revival of the mill, Gogoi said the prime minister by putting the blame on the Congress was just washing his hands of the responsibility and shedding crocodile tears for Assam.