Amidst thundering applause from a huge crowd, the siren of Punalur Paper Mills Limited (PPML) was heard by the people after a gap of 23 years at 6.50 p.m. on Friday.

The siren went off to give a green signal for the renovation work of the PPML and the company is expected to start production once more in six months' time.

Industries Minister Elamaram Karim, who inaugurated the renovation work, said the revival package was an Onam gift for the people of Punalur. He said the reopening of the company was the result of a coordinated effort by various departments. Huge amount due to the government from the previous owners were waived.

When the company reopens, more than 200 persons in the muster of the company at the time of its closure will get back their job. The raw material used earlier for the production of paper was reed and bamboo from the forest areas. But now such material cannot be procured because of forest protection laws.

So the company will use old paper as the raw material. The main product will be newsprint. The Minister said the main promoter, Akhila Boards from Andhra Pradesh, was already in newsprint manufacturing. As part of the comprehensive package deal, more than Rs.8 crore would be distributed to the former employees of the company as part of settling their dues.

Welcoming the gathering, member of the new director board of the company Nelson Sebastian said during its hey days, the PPML was the backbone of Punalur's economy. When it closed down, the economy of the town was badly hit. Several employees who lost their jobs had even committed suicide, he said.

He said efforts would be taken to provide jobs to dependents of the former employees who were no more.

He said all political parties and trade unions had extended support to the revival of the company. The new promoters would have 52.76 per cent of the shares, he said.

In his presidential address, K. Raju, MLA, said to facilitate the reopening of the company, all legal disputes were withdrawn. Pending benefits to be distributed to the former employees ranged from Rs.50,000 to Rs.4 lakh. Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran inaugurated the distribution of pending benefits to the former employees. Kodikunnil Suresh, MP, addressed the gathering. CPI(M) district secretary K. Rajagopal, INTUC leader Bharateepuram Sasi, Congress leader Punalur Madhu and CPI(M) leader S. Jayamohan spoke.