Wood is the best fibre to make paper. The need of the hour is a government policy that focuses on utilizing degraded forests surrounding paper mills within a 200 kilometre radius to grow “pulpable variety of trees such as eucalyptus, casuarina or acacia,” said R Narayan Moorthy, the secretary general of the Indian Paper Manufacturers Association.
He said that more land has to be made available to the paper industry to meet local consumption, forecast to grow to 17 million tons in five years from 12 million tons at present, according to a Business Standard report.
Indian mills rely majorly on five lakh hectares of industry led agro-forestry to source wood pulp, alongside 0.6 million tons of pulp imported from countries like Indonesia, Canada and Scandanavia, Moorthy said.
Degraded forest land should be leased to paper mills for about 30 to 35 years, allowing for five crop rotations on the same. The same has twin benefits, monetizing unused land and protection of environment in the area, Moorthy said.
India has no other alternative but to go for aggressive utilization of degraded forest land to reduce its dependency on imports in the future, said Moorthy. And good policy could see the country become a net exporter of the raw material, he said.