Centre outlines plans to revive Cachar Paper Mill
SILCHAR, Feb 6: There have been no serious efforts by the state government to take care of the industries in Barak Valley. After the closure of Cachar Sugar Mill, Badarpur Textile Industry and Pineapple Juice Concentrate Plant at Ramgar, questions are now being raised will Cachar Paper Mill, a unit of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) meet the same fate? After being flooded with representations from trade union bodies and pursuance by the MPs, Union Ministry of Heavy Enterprises and Industries is reported to be taking necessary steps for the resuscitation of the Cachar Paper Mill located at Panchgram in Hailakandi district, 29 km from here.
At the initial state, the allotment of fund will help the Mill to overcome the crisis. In fact, it has been faced with various problems and for the last three years facing intermittent shutdown. Besides, fiscal constraints, shortage of raw materials like bamboo shoots and coal as well as marketing of finished products have been plaguing the Mill. This is the only public sector undertaking in south Assam. Sarbanda Sonowal, Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs (Independent), MPs Sushmita Dev, Radheshyam Biswas and Ramen Deka have in particular met Anta Gite, Union Minister of Heavy Industries, and impressed upon him for his immediate intervention to save the Mill.
It was made known to him that Cachar Paper Mill stands in need of modernization. To facilitate transportation of raw materials and finished products, the Union Minister was also urged upon to divert the newly laid BG track from Panchgram railway station to the site of the Mill. The Doner Ministry has agreed for the extension of the BG track and for which it will sanction Rs.8 crore at the initial stage. It is to be recalled that a joint secretary of the Union Industry Ministry was on an inspection of the Mill to study its problems and accordingly he submitted a report to the Ministry.
When Sontosh Mohan Dev was the Minister of Heavy Industries, he allotted Rs.500 crore for the modernization of the mills at Panchgram and gaon for achieving the optimum level of production. It was during 2004 – 2007 that the Mill could achieve the highest target of production. In fact, since its inception in 1988, this industry has been faced with inept and inefficient magement as well as corrupt practices at various, telling heavily on the output as well as outlay.
The Mill was set up to exploit scientifically the available tural resources of the region to generate employment and contribute towards the socio-economic development of the people. It was designed to produce 1 lakh metric ton of printing and writing paper and it achieved the quality expected in the competitive market for it being saleable. At one stage, it became a profit making PSU and was conferred ‘Mini Rat’ status. Apart from all the ills, it now faces serious dearth of working capital and the immediate need of modernization of its obsolete plants and machinery.
This Mill has to turn to the updated technology and machinery for producing better quality of paper. In the absence of modernization, it has been sustaining huge losses. The modernization process, as suggested by experts, should include introduction of Oxygen De Lignifications (ODL) plants to replace the present method of Chlorine Bleaching as strict embargo has been issued by world environment bodies on use of Mercury and Chlorine for the production, enhancement of production capacity of Chlorine Di-Oxide plant to elemental Chlorine free Bleaching (ECF), technology modernization and upgradation of pulp mill and its auxiliaries, renovation of recovery boiler and all existing coal fired boilers.
It was also suggested that all chipper units should be replaced with modern chipper machines as well as renovation and upgradation of various other tools and equipments. The experts have pleaded for grant of Rs.1000 crore for modernization and Rs.500 crore as working capital. According to a competent source, Ramen Deka has been entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining contact with Anta Gite for the sanction of necessary funds for both the mills at Panchgram and gaon. A positive outcome is expected.