SILCHAR, Nov 24: The gaon and Cachar paper mills which were established in the remote part of northeast with the aim to generate employment, industrial and socio-economic development of the region. The mills are owned by Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited. The gaon mill started its commercial production from 1985 while the same started in Cachar paper mill from 1988. The mills have achieved the objective of the government by generating large scale employment for the people along with playing a vital role in the socio-economic development of the region.
The mills also established a benchmark by producing high quality paper at competent rates in comparison to other private organizations in the market. Both the mills were profit making organizations and were accorded ‘Schedule A’ and ‘Mini Rat’ status by the Central Government. But from 2007 to 2012, there was a huge crisis of bamboo as raw material which affected production in both the paper mills. Of them, the crisis in Cachar paper mill, 26 km from here, in particular was critical.
Though the crisis was overcome, the mills continue to face serious constraints due to dearth of working capital. It may be mentioned here that the paper mills even today are using the technology of the 70’s era. The government and the magement have not yet taken any proactive measure for upgradation of the mills which once were not only cost effective but also earning profits. The upgradation process started a few years back was a failure.
In the present competitive market scerio, the mills are uble to compete on equal footing with others in the business. All other paper manufacturing industries operating in the country have switched over to the latest technology and introduced modern machinery for producing high quality paper which ploughs back enough profits. The two HPCL units are sustaining huge losses. The depreciation value of machinery in commercial terms is nearing zero. The exercises to achieve optimum performance have become not only challenging but also quite impossible to reach.
These are the issues which have been raised in a memorandum by trade union bodies addressed to the Prime Minister of India submitted through the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar recently. The memorandum at the same time offers several suggestions for bringing back the mills on the rail. These are 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 in the memorandum that all chipper units should be replaced with modern chipper machines as well as renovation and upgradation of various other tools and equipments, conversion of the MG to BG track inside the Cachar paper mill compound for better transportation of inbound raw materials and outbound finished products. Another suggestion is for continuation of transport subsidy till the conversion of track. The trade union bodies have given an estimate of Rs.1000 crore for technology upgradation and Rs.500 crore as working capital.
The trade union bodies urged Prime Minister rendra Modi to take up the issues raised and initiate immediate positive measures for resurrecting the mills. The memorandum was signed by trade union leaders that included Surajit Ghosh, zmul Islam, M U Barbhuiya, A U Mazumder and A R Mazumder.