Country’s second-largest paper maker pushes growth

By Venkatachari Jagannathan, IANS,

Chennai : Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers that has set up its Rs.1,000-crore third unit last month is confident of reaching 100-percent production of its capacity of 400,000 tonnes this month and enhancing exports by a third to 90,000 tonnes.

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“This month onward, we will achieve a full capacity utilisation. The new machine will be used to make high-quality copier, pigment and high-end surface sized paper,” said the company’s deputy managing director A. Velliangiri.

“We also plan to increase our export volume by 30,000 tonnes to 90,000 tonnes per annum. The export revenue for next fiscal is expected to be around Rs.350 crore, up from the Rs.250 crore this fiscal. We export to around 40 countries,” Velliangiri told IANS in an interview.

The top executive of the country’s second largest paper-maker said several innovative steps had been taken in recent months to push growth. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had laid the foundation stone for three of these projects last month.

These are a new unit to make pulp out of waste paper at an outlay of Rs.175 crore with a capacity of 300 tonnes per day, a mini cement plant at an outlay of Rs.67 crore with a capacity of 600 tonnes per day and a Rs.135-crore upgrade of generators.

“The first initiative is to increase our in-house pulp production without increasing the effluents. Bulk of waste paper will be be imported. We are also considering a system to collect waste paper to meet our needs,” Velliangiri said.

In addition, the company has allotted land at its premises — at Kagithapuram in Karur, some 335 km from here — to the Swiss-based Omya to make precipitated calcium carbonate, which is used to improve paper quality, on a build-own-operate basis.

“We use around 150 tonnes of this product per day,” Velliangiri said, adding: “This will be a factory within a factory. We will supply the inputs and the Swiss company that has the technology will supply the product to us. This pact is initially for 10 years.”

Looking back, the company is actually a gamble that has paid off well. In the 1980s, rolling out newsprint using bagasse was considered as a doubtful technology. Further, there were few units in the world making printing and writing paper with bagasse.

In 1984 the company changed that. It rolled out 90,000 tonnes per annum of newsprint and printing and writing paper. Today it is the largest bagasse-based paper mill globally and saves as many trees annually as can grow on 30,000 acres.

Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers is also the second-largest printing and writing paper-maker in the country and its mill near Karur is the largest in a single location. “When we began in 1984 we never thought we would grow to this size,” Velliangiri recalled.

Looking ahead, he said the focus was on organic growth. “We hope to close the current financial year with Rs.1,800-crore revenue. Our focus is on consolidation of expanded capacity and commissioning of other projects by 2012. As of now our plate is full.”

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at [email protected])