Special Correspondent

Raw material, energy and interest rates impede progress

HYDERABAD: Indian Pulp and Paper Technical Association (IPPTA) has presented a grim picture of the prospects for the industry in the coming years with the “very conservatively projected” annual demand by 2020 being 20 million tonnes.

Talking to presspersons here on Wednesday, Anil Kumar, President, IPPTA, said the paper industry contributed 7.5 million tonnes a year out of the world’s 325 million tonnes and was ranked 15th across the globe.

The per capita consumption of paper in India was 7-7.5 kg a year, while the world average was pegged at 40 kg. A few developed economies like the U.S. had a per capita consumption of 300 kg a year. Mr. Kumar said production had to increase astronomically, if the demand had to be met with indigenously.

Major issues

Raw material, energy and rates of interest on capital investment were the major issues that were impeding the progress of the industry. Poor forest cover was one important reason. India had a forest cover of 18-19 per cent as against the mandatory one-third of the landmass. He said degraded forest land should be given to the industry for afforestation on a long-term captive basis with necessary safeguards.

The availability of paper for recycling was abysmally low and 60-70 per cent of the wastepaper required for recycling was being imported, said Pradeep Dhobale, CEO and Managing Director, ITC Bhadrachalam (paper boards industry). Of the total raw material required, wastepaper formed 40 per cent.

Mr. Kumar said energy in the country was very costly and unreliable. Meanwhile, China and Southeast Asian countries were getting into paper production on a very large scale and they would be in surplus. However, the duty cut (140 per cent some five-six years ago to the current 12.5 per cent) was an encouraging trend.

R. C. Mall, Executive Director, AP Paper Mills, said the Ministry of Environment and Forests had circulated a note for providing multi-stake-holder partnership involving land-owners, industry and the government to raise the forest cover for industrial use.