The nature of the problem is not in contention. It is the nature of the solution suggested. Clearly, the paper and pulp industry can grow substantially if there are more sources of raw material. This is not to say that there is a raw material crunch. Phenomenal growth is possible for this industry, which uses renewable raw materials. But is land to industry the solution to its growth? That clearly is more than debatable. It is absurd.
It can grow its raw material in partnership with people -- farmers growing trees on their lands or communities planting trees in forest lands. According to m o ef, over 17 million ha of land are under joint forest management, involving some 8.3 million families. Clearly, these lands will, once afforested, produce trees for growth. These trees should be harvested and sold to industry. People and forests will benefit. The critical difference is that in this partnership, the land will remain under the control of communities. Industry will have to seek partnerships to encourage these committees to grow wood and will make its offer attractive -- reliable markets at assured prices.
Similarly, there is a huge potential for this industry to get its raw material from recycled waste paper. Indian mills are beginning to use large quantities of paper waste -- almost one-third of the raw material. But this is foreign waste. In other words, we import waste paper, which is recycled in western countries for our mills. Domestic recovery of waste paper is very low by international standards. Paper, which is manufactured using waste paper is also resource-efficient -- it uses less water and energy -- by tonne of product produced. It will make business sense as well. But collection and recovery will require industry to make new partnerships -- this time with the kabadiwalla, the informal industry of waste recyclers. This is also a multi-stakeholder partnership, but of a different kind.
With inputs from C Balaji, Padmaparna Ghosh and GRP team