The seminar was inaugurated by the Chief Guest Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Former President of India followed by welcome address by Dr. B.L. Bihani. Dr. Bihani in his speech said that the present global meltdown may continue for a year and half and the industry will soon recover from this global recession. He was of the view that Indian Paper industry has a great future.
The annual seminar was attended by over 350 delegates from pulp, paper, allied industries, Govt. organizations, international experts, guests and media personnel. During the two days seminar 19 technical papers, covering latest technological developments in pulp and paper industry were presented by experts from India as well as from abroad. A Panel Discussion was organized on 6th March, 2009 on “Issues and Challenges before Paper industry in view of recent economic scenario”. There was also a special session of two hours duration on 7th March, 2009 on the topic “Management and control of Stickies” by Dr. Mahendra Doshi, Executive Editor, Progress in Paper recycling, USA to focus on use of recycled fibre of manufacture better quality paper.
Dr. Ashok Kumar, President-IPPTA and Associate Vice President, BILT, Unit: Shree Gopal in his presidential address gave the technical background and importance of this topic due to the slowdown. He said the world economy was facing a difficult time which has dampened growth and has affected the Indian paper industry. Considering the strength of domestic demand and the domestic natures of financing of investments, the impact of global financial crisis has been less in India but the effects of economic slowdown on paper industry have started showing, domestic players are now feeling the heat. He further said that the estimated turnover of the Indian paper industry is about Rs.25000 crore and i t s contribution to the exchequer is around Rs. 2900 crore. The operating capacity of the paper industry is about 9.3 million tons and the paper consumption including newsprint is about 8.9 million tons. The per capita consumption of paper in India is about 8.3 kg which is quite low as compared with the international figures. The paper industry provides direct employment to about 1.2 lac persons and about 3.4 lac persons are engaged indirectly.
The paper industry associations have urged the Centre to increase custom duty from 10-15 per cent on paper and paperboards, impose anti-dumping duty rationalize duty entitlement pass book scheme.
Dr. Kalam in his Inaugural speech, advised delegates to make an action plan to achieve a distinctive profile of India by 2020. He suggested that the paper mills located in different regions should create a PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) complex in the region according to their corporate social responsibility. The mission of PURA will be employment generation. This action will overcome problems arising out of the present economic turbulence and enable India to achieve the distinctive profile by 2020. While addressing the gathering of about 350 technical personnel, he asked them to draw a road map for increasing paper production to 25 million tons from the present figure of 8.5 million tons and bridge technology gaps in next five years so that the industry is internationally competitive. He emphasized on improving the collection of recycled paper and ensuring availability of the resource for at least 50 per cent of annual paper production.