Paper shortage delays textbook printing

Paper shortage delays textbook printing

Paper shortage delays textbook printing
Students of state board schools in Karnataka may have to wait for at least two months for their textbooks this year. Printers have run into a shortage of paper, and complain the government took too long to give them work orders. In all, 511 titles have to be printed, adding up to nearly six crore books. Anil Hosakoppa, one of those chosen by the government, has to print 1.37 crore books. He has managed to print only about 30% of it so far.

“I need 3,300 tonnes of paper to complete the order. I have used up the 400 tonnes I had already procured. For 40 days, work has remained stalled for want of paper,” he said. The tender document lays down that printers must use A grade, 60 GSM paper, but water-starved mills in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are in no position to meet the demand. Every year, Hosakoppa says, paper prices go up by at least Rs 10,000 in the printing season, and touch Rs 50,000 a tonne. “This year, even if we pay Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000, we are not sure we will get supplies,” he said. He has placed orders at multiple mills and hopes to get enough supplies in two months, after which he expects to take 100 to 120 days to print the textbooks. The government took longer than usual to call for tenders and issue work orders, another printer said.

“Every year, the tender notification is given in October and by December, the work orders are issued. But this year, the department called for tenders several times saying the rates quoted were too high. This delayed the process by 45 to 60 days, and paper prices went up further,” he explained.

By his reckoning, the exercise did not save the government any money. The second printer has to deliver 1.3 crore books. “If the work order had been issued in December, the textbooks would have been ready in time,” he said.

‘A bit of an issue’
Ajay Seth, Principal Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, said, “Paper supply is a bit of an issue and we are trying to help the printers obtain supply. The Department of Printing, Stationery and Publications has spoken to a mill in Tamil Nadu and they have agreed to supply 5,000 tonnes of paper.”

He said the government had given orders for most of the 86 packages by February. “Only seven or eight were given in March. Retendering was done three times because printers were quoting prices 30 to 35% more than last year,” he told DH.

No water to produce paper
A source at Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd, a major supplier of paper to mills in Karnataka, confirmed the mill had shut down one of its three machines. “To produce one tonne of paper, we need between 1.3 to 1.4 lakh litres of water. Because of severe shortage, the water is being diverted for drinking,” the source said. Though units such as the West Coast Paper Mills in Dandeli (Karnataka) are not so water-starved, their production capacity isn’t enough to make up for the Tamil Nadu shortfall, the source explained.