TRICHY: It has been a week since cyclone Gaja left behind a trail of destruction in the delta districts bringing down a significant number of trees. These included lakhs of horticultural trees that were to be procured by the paper industry. This has raised the possibility of farmers falling prey to middlemen who may try to procure wood at cheaper rates taking advantage of the tragedy.
However Tamil Nadu Papers Limited (TNPL), the state-owned producer of newsprint and writing paper, has come forward to procure wood pulp. After visiting Vedaranyam in Nagapattinnam, Pudukottai and Thanjavur districts, a team comprising the chief general manager and general managers of TNPL are charting out plans to procure the wood.
There are five major species of trees are procured by TNPL as raw material to make paper, casuarina and eucalyptus are the ones primarily used. TNPL pays at the rate of Rs 5,575 for a tonne of casuarina and Rs 5,000 for eucalyptus. But farmers say that the price fixed by TNPL is for the wood pulp which reaches its unit after debarking.
While farmers are not in a position to either debark it or take it to TNPL procurement mills, the general secretary of Farmers Forum of India, G S Dhanapathi, urged TNPL to procure more trees as it was not procuring beyond its daily requirement of 1,500 metric tonnes. This meant that only 150 trucks of wood pulp was allowed per day.
However, casuarina trees alone were harvested on 50,000 acres in Pudukottai which had all fallen due to cyclone Gaja. Therefore, considering the extent of wood available, TNPL should come forward to fix procurement points at some places in the delta districts, he said.
Officials from TNPL said given the situation in the ground, it may not be possible to do anything for the next 10 days.
“There are many places where it is not possible to get the trees out of the agriculture field due to water logging,”said a senior official from TNPL.