In a historic throwback, the former Hindustan Newsprint Limited (HNL), which was taken over by the Kerala government and renamed Kerala Paper Products Limited (KPPL), will start manufacturing newsprint from Thursday.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate newsprint manufacturing at KPPL as part of the restructuring of the 700-acre mill which was previously a central public sector enterprise. The plant has been decommissioned since June 2019.
Industry Minister P Rajeeve said the first phase of the restructuring of the newsprint mill had been completed on schedule.
When the Union government decided to privatize HNL after it closed due to financial losses, the left-wing government of Kerala formed KPPL to take over the business.
Rajeeve said the left-leaning government has taken the necessary steps to revive and restart the company’s operations on a priority basis and a detailed four-phase strategic plan for the company’s sustainable survival has been rolled out.
“The restart of the mill and existing machines, the ‘Restart and Restart Program (RRP)’, has been set up in two phases. Phase 1 of the restart program involves the restart of the paper machine, the ₹34.30 crore was allocated for repairs and maintenance in the areas of mechanical, electrical and instrumentation engineering in the factories of the phase 1,” Rajeeve told media.
KPPL Special Officer Prasad Balakrishnan Nair told PTI that the total expenditure for the stimulus package was ₹154.39 crore, including the working capital component of ₹75.15 crore for phases 1 and 2.
Aims for long-term survival
“Domestic and global markets are experiencing tremendous growth for the packaging and paperboard industry, both for industrial packaging and retail, in line with the growth of the e-commerce sector, from retail to online retail, FMCG, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, etc., and the increasing regulations around single-use plastics,” Nair said.
He said that with a view to long-term survival, KPPL intends to take advantage of these emerging opportunities by rolling out the program of capacity expansion and product diversification, strategically venturing into the segments of packaging and cardboard.
KPPL must be able to start operations with the production of lower grammages of newsprint (42 GSM and 45 GSM) and non-surfaced writing and printing paper (52 GSM-70 GSM), mainly for the segments of notebooks and textbooks, he mentioned.
As part of Phase 1 of the Relaunch and Restart Program (RRP), maintenance activities were launched simultaneously in the paper machines, de-inking plant and electric boilers on January 1.
Nair said relaunch activities have been completed and trial production has been completed at the de-inking and power boiler plants and trial production is underway at the paper machine plant.
KPPL uses its own de-inked pulp and pulp purchased from Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) for production trials.
Currently with 252 employees, management and non-management combined are engaged for Phase 1 and 2 restart activities.
“It definitely signals an alternative model of industrial development and a great message for the whole country. It’s a ‘one of a kind’ historical moment, because this kind of ‘comeback’ rarely happens in the industrial history of the country” said Nair.
May 19, 2022