In a historic comeback, the erstwhile Hindustan Newsprint Limited (HNL) which was taken over by the Kerala government and rechristened as Kerala Paper Products Limited (KPPL), will begin manufacturing newsprint from Thursday.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the manufacturing of the newsprint at KPPL as part of restructuring the 700-acre plant which was earlier a central public sector undertaking. The plant has been defunct since June 2019.

Industries Minister P Rajeeve said the first phase of restructuring of the newsprint plant was completed in stipulated time.

When the Union government decided to privatise HNL after it was shut down citing financial loss, the Left government in Kerala constituted KPPL to take over the company.

Rajeeve said the Left government took necessary steps to revive and restart operations of the firm on a priority basis and a detailed strategic plan in four phases for the sustained survival of the company was rolled out.

"The revival of the existing plant and machinery, the 'Revival and Restart Programme (RRP)', was configured into two Phases. Phase 1 of the restart programme entails the revival of paper machine, de-inking plant and power boilers and associated auxiliary plants and utility services. ₹34.30 crore was allocated for the repairs and maintenance in mechanical, electrical and instrumentation engineering areas in the Phase 1 plants," Rajeeve told the media.

KPPL special officer Prasad Balakrishnan Nair told PTI that the total outlay for the revival plan was ₹154.39 crore including the working capital component of ₹75.15 crore for Phases 1 and 2.

Aims at long-term survival

"Domestic and global markets are witnessing furious growth for the packaging and paper board industry, both industrial and retail packaging, in line with the growth in the e-commerce sector, online retail, FMCG, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage etc., and the growing regulations regarding the single use plastics," Nair said.

He said with a view on long-term sustained survival, KPPL intends to leverage these emerging opportunities by rolling out the Capacity Expansion cum Product Diversification Programme, by strategically venturing into the packaging and paper board segments.

KPPL shall be able to commence the operations with the production of lower grammages of newsprint (42 GSM & 45 GSM) and un-surface sized grades of writing and printing paper (52 GSM-70 GSM), mainly for notebook and textbook segments, he said.

As part of the Phase 1 of the Revival and Restart Programme (RRP), maintenance activities were simultaneously launched in paper machine, de-inking plant and power boilers on January 1.

Nair said the revival activities have been completed and production trials were successfully completed in the de-inking and power boiler plants and production trials are being carried out in the paper machine plant.

KPPL uses its own de-inked pulp and pulp purchased from Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) for production trials.

Currently with 252 employees, both managerial and non-managerial officials combined are engaged for the restart activities of Phases 1 and 2.

"This definitely signals an alternate model of industrial development and a big message for the entire country. This is a historical 'one of its kind' of moment as rarely these kinds of 'coming back' happens in the industrial history of the country," Nair said.