Non-availability of bamboo shoots halts production in paper mill

SILCHAR: Production in Cachar Paper Mill, the only major industrial undertaking in south Assam and adjoining states of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura, has once again come to a halt due to crisis of green bamboo shoots.

Industry sources said production in the mill, a unit of the public sector Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd situated at Panchgram in Hailakandi district, stopped five days ago due to non-availability of the main raw material.

The mill, with a capacity of producing 1,00,000 tonne of paper annually, has been shutting down every now and then for the last few years incurring huge loss. "There's insufficient supply of bamboo from its sources, including Mizoram and Dima Hasao for the last few weeks. This has compelled the authorities to stop production temporarily. However, when we have sufficient raw material, the production will resume," said an HPCL unit official on Tuesday.

The sources said the mill requires 300-350 tonne of bamboo daily for production of paper, but the unit is getting less than half the bamboo required since 2006-2007 leading to temporary shutdown of the production unit every now and then.

Situated at a remote place in the northeast, the mill also has poor infrastructural facilities. The mill is dependant on bamboo supplied from the jungles of Mizoram, Dima Hasao and Tripura. The supply of bamboo for the mill was resumed partially only recently after a long gap caused by bamboo flowering.

The unit fails to get bamboo regularly from Dima Hasao in an absence of a proper railway track to the area, while the Tripura government is yet to resume supply of bamboo to the Cachar Paper Mill after the devastating bamboo flowering in the state during 2007-08.

Members of Citu-affiliated Kajog Kol Thikadar Shramik Union and Cachar Paper Mill Mazdoor Union last Friday handed over a memorandum to Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar during his visit to Silchar urging him to take necessary steps to resume bamboo supply without further delay.

The two unions also requested him to start a pulp unit at Tripura. "One such unit is being considered in Mizoram by the state government. If another is set up in Tripura, it will be of great help to the Cachar Paper Mill," the union functionaries said.