Revamping of Valaichchenai Paper Mills will help solve paper scarcity - Former Competent Authority | Daily News

Revamping of Valaichchenai Paper Mills will help solve paper scarcity - Former Competent Authority

Former Competent Authority of the Valachchenai Paper Mills Mangala Senarath yesterday said that the revamping of the Valaichchenai Paper Mills will help solve the scarcity of paper items in the country.

He said that whilst the country is searching for a solution to the scarcity for paper items in the country about 10,000 – 15,000 MT of waste paper- the main raw material used for manufacturing paper items are being exported without being used locally.

Senarath who ensured that the National Paper Mill ran profitably during his tenure from 2012–2015 said the Government was spending more than US$ 50 million for the import of paper items to the country before the onset of economic crisis due to the malfunctioning of Valachchenai and Embilipitiya Paper Mills

“In the present context, the country cannot invest such a large amount of foreign exchange for the purpose,” Senarath said.

He said that he accepted the challenge of reviving the paper mill after several years in the doldrums by revamping the machineries. “The Mill produced only 35MT of paper per month and the salaries of the employees were not paid for over three months when I accepted the position. However, I managed to bring the Mill to a profitable level to ensure better pay for the employees," he said

Senarath said that he is planning to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indutries Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana to discuss how he can help revive the factory again to meet the demand for paper items in the country due to existing economic recession.

He said that he will explain how this factory can be revamped at no extra cost to the Government and the production can be increased upto 7500–10,000 MT of paper items per month.

“If these factories can manufacture the required quantity of paper then the foreign exchange spent on the import of paper items could be saved. When the Valaichchenai Paper Mills resumes production, we can have a paper village there. We can also find investment as well as the resources needed. Then, there will not be a necessity for any Government assistance," Senarath said.

He added that machinery can be installed at the factory for the production of newsprint which is presently in shortage in the country

“During my tenure, I managed to renovate both paper and board machines but could not increase production. We found money for the purpose by selling scrap iron at the factory premises with the approval of the Government at that time,” he said.

Tenders for the renovation of machines were offered to companies through a transparent Tender procedure based on the decision of the two committees. The boiler renovation was previously quoted for Rs. 26.5 million. However, we managed to do it for Rs. 11.5 million with local contractors who provided technical support to the Polonnaruwa Rice Mills

“We were able to produce more than 220 MT of paper in 28 days which was a record after 14 years," he added.

The National Paper Mill produced 300 gsm case covers mainly supplied to Government institutions, postcard papers to the Postal Department duplex board to the Central Transport Board to print season tickets and box board and chip boards.

Senarath said that he is planning to have 100MT daily production out of both machines at the Paper Mills.

“First we want to get a Bio mass steam boiler in proper order and a Board manufacturing machine in good running order to boost the production. The removed machines at the Mill can be repaired with the assistance of Indian experts who had visited the factory four times," he added.

The Valachchenai Paper Mill which had been a boon to thousands of families in the Eastern Province beame the bane with the closure of these factories as a result of various corrupt activities and lack of political will to clean it up thus forcing thousands of employees to become destitute and unemployed.

The Ceylon Paper Corporation was set up in 1951. The mill was started in 1955 and commercial production was started in 1956. From 1956-1960, the factory ran at a loss and after 1960 it began making profits. From 1960-1997, the factory earned huge profits and over Rs.100 m was paid to the Treasury coffers as tax.

During this golden era, in 1993 and 1994, the factory won National Productivity Awards and was recognised as one of the best industries in the country. Today the factory belongs to the National Paper Company Limited which is Government owned.

The machines are over five decades old but still in good condition. The Voith machines made in Germany have a lifetime warranty and can be upgraded and could be run without trouble with proper maintenance.


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