Northeast gets its first handmade paper industry
In a first-of-its-kind eco-friendly initiative in Eastern India to revive one of the numerous desi industries nurtured by Mahatma Gandhi, the pioneering LB Group of Industries recently launched a Handmade Paper Project through its SBU LB Agro Private Limited. Located in the Koraibari area of Guwahati, the project was inaugurated by respected Gandhian and eminent social activist Natwar Thakkar, and the same is expected to open up scores of employment avenues for the youth of the region. The state-of-the-art handmade paper unit is the first of its kind initiative in the entire eastern province of the country.
In today’s age when issues like climate change and global warming have become a cause for concern across the world, the opening of a eco-friendly handmade paper project in the Northeast is a significant development in itself. Handmade paper is one of the few Swadeshi industries that were nurtured during India’s Freedom Movement under the leadership of Gandhiji. and later Kumarappaji. It was Kumarappaji who was instrumental in organizing this traditional paper making practice into the form of an industry. With technological up-gradation and more widespread utilization of handmade paper, this industry has come a long way since those early days, and India today is one of the leading handmade paper suppliers and manufacturers in the world. A major reason for this stupendous growth is the financial and technological assistance extended to this industry by the Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) due to which the industry, during the last four decades, has not only survived but also made its impact felt in other developed countries by exporting quality paper.
Because of its environment friendly manufacturing process and products, the handmade paper industry is termed as emerging in the Indian context, with its present growth rate being labelled at 10 per cent in the domestic market and at 25 per cent in the export market. Experts, however, feel that the scope of this industry is immense as utilization of paper is only bound to increase in the country. A source in the Indian Pulp and Paper Technical Association (IPPTA), which is a national-level association of professionals engaged in the pulp, newsprint and allied paper industry of India, said, “Our country’s per capita consumption of paper, which is an index of the educational and socio-economic development of a country, is only around 4 Kg only in India as compared to a world average of 45 Kg. With the growth of literacy and development, the per capita consumption of paper is bound to increase, at least in India.”
Contrary to popular belief, production of handmade paper is based on the use of non-forest-based resources and recycling techniques. The potential of a handmade paper project is immense in the Northeast, primarily because of the availability of a variety of fibres that is rich in cellulose (the main ingredient required in the production of paper). As Bijaylakshmi Borpujari, a graduate in environmental studies, says, “Besides checking the onset of global warming and the greenhouse effect, the production and utilization of handmade paper will also help in stopping deforestation and checking our forest resources.”
The Key features of Handmade Paper Project are:
1. It is a prominent industry based on decentralised production and environment friendly technology.
2. Prevents deforestation by utilising non-woody raw materials.
3. Converts waste into wealth by recycling.
4. It is the solution to the problem of energy and pollution.
5. The durability of paper is long, compared to machine-made paper.
6. Increasing domestic consumption and bright export potential.
The initiative of LB Group to start its handmade paper factory is another instance of its attempts at “business with a conscience”. A pioneering business house that has consistently promoted excellence and best in-class performance, the group has opened up countless employment avenues for scores of unemployed people of the Northeast. Talking to Bazaar View, founder chairman of LB group Dipok Borthakur said that their recent inaugurated factory is an extension of their commitment to the local community, Assam and Northeast. “We had made a commitment to share our achievements in everything that we do with the local community and people of the Northeast. Our project is aimed at promoting sustainable industrial growth of non-polluting agenda and is a step forward in the ‘Green’ agenda of the Government. The factory is based on the idea of promoting an environment-friendly industry. Our papers, which are prepared in an environment-friendly way, are acid and lignin free. We are firm believers in responsible trade practices; we offer a wide range of handmade paper and paper products that are of superior quality and are 100% wood free.”
The LB group opened a new era in entrepreneurship and business in Assam and the Northeast when it started its journey in 1969 under the leadership of Dipok Borthakur. The group has today emerged as a frontrunner in the pharma-distribution network of the Northeast region; also harbouring plans to venturing into the healthcare manufacturing sector by 2011. The group is much respected for its continuous commitment for the unemployed people of the region. As Borthakur said, “The work environment in our factories are comfortable and our craft workers are paid well above the local average; thus motivating them to perform better. With this new handmade paper unit, we hope to provide a bigger avenue of employment for the local community.”