November 23, 2017
Rising import of a variety of papers, including the standard A4 sheets, at cheap rates has put the local industry in a difficult situation. This calls for Government taking steps to ensure local industries a level-playing field through Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with competing countries, according to Seshasayee Paper and Boards Managing Director KS Kasi Vishwanathan.
There was a steady increase of import of papers, including the newsprint, by 30 per cent, he said, adding that the industry wanted the Government to go for FTA so that a level playing field was created on duty structure, Vishwanathan told mediapersons here.
There was a price difference of 15 to 20 per cent for various types of imported papers, he said, adding that the Rs 50,000-crore paper industry in India had to compete with Thailand and South Korea, which have a large number of industrial plantations for sourcing wood pulp for paper manufacture.
Paper exports from India also registered a 10 to 15 per cent increase in the last decade as a result of remarkable improvement in quality, Vishwanathan, who is a past president of Indian Pulp and Paper Technical Association (IPPTA), said.
Regarding news print, he said it was largely imported as it was made from wood and India did not have such industrial plantations. About the Centre’s digitisation and paperless transaction projects, Vishwanthan said that digitisation had really helped the industry, since it triggered the use of different types of paper. Similarly, e-commerce had helped the growth of packaging industry.
IPPTA Secretary General MK Goyal said that in reality, “life without paper” can only be in dream. “Be it for making of decorative or hygiene products, packaging or printing and writing, use of paper had only increased, as the industry is growing 6 to 7 per cent year-on-year,” he said.
The industry was using different raw materials such as old/used paper, wood from social forestry and bagasse and straw (agricultural waste) for making paper, he said adding that Paper from agricultural waste was around 15 per cent and around 30 per came from waste/used paper and wood pulp.
The Government should also help the industry in propagating the need to recycle waste paper and bagasse, normally burnt by farmers, he said.
IPPTA is organising a two-day zonal seminar here from tomorrow, with the theme ‘Re-engineering and best maintenance practices’ With nearly 850 paper mills across the country, the estimated contribution of the industry to the exchequer was around Rs 4,500 crore and providing direct and indirect employment to 16 lakh people. Tamil Nadu has around 70 mills, contributing 8 per cent of the total paper production of 15 million tonnes per annum.