Paper industry has large significance to man. The industry has assumed greater importance in India with the growth of literacy.
Paper is required for books, magazines, periodicals, news-papers, writing and for various other purposes. In fact, paper is indispensable to man in the present day world.
Paper is made from a variety of materials like rags, cereal strains, jute, hemp, bamboo, bagasse, bhaber grass, sabai grass, esparto grass and wood pulp. Presently, of all the raw materials wood pulp and bamboo predominate.
The art of making paper was known to the Chinese as far back as 105 A.D. In India, it was started during the Mughal period.
Paper making on modern lines is of a recent origin. Production of machine made paper was started by the bally mills, set up near Kolkata in 1870. By the end of the 19th century, Titaghar paper mill (1884), Deccan paper mill (1888) and Bengal paper mill (1891) had started production of paper. In 1925, the Government granted protection to the industry.
Paper industry in India had a big leap during 1939-45, when a number of mills were set up and the production of paper touched about one lakh tonne mark. The number of mills rose to fifteen.
The real development of paper manufacturing occurred after 1950. Presently, there are 55 paper mills with an installed capacity of 26-0 lakh tonnes. The production of paper and paper board was to the tune of 15 lakh tonnes as against 1-1 lakh tonnes in 1951.
The industry depends upon the following factors for its location:
(i) Availability of raw material.
(ii) Abundant supplies of clean and soft water for bleaching and washing purposes.
(iii) Cheap and efficient means of transportation for carrying raw materials to the
mill sites and for distributing paper for marketing in the consuming centres.
(iv) Nearness to markets.
(v) Adequate supply of cheap labour.
(vi) Nearness to source of power.
(vii) Facilities for disposal of waste.
(viii) Availability of chemicals like caustic soda, acid and china clay.
(ix) Availability of capital.
(x) Availability of water.
Like cotton mill industry, paper industry also has two distinct phases of its geographical distribution.
In the earlier stage of its growth, the industry was mainly localized in the Hoogly basin of West Bengal, whereas in the second stage, there had been a dispersal of the industry to many other parts of the country.
For many years, the paper industry was concentrated in the Hoogly basin; however, presently the industry has been set up in many other parts of the country. The state of West Bengal has leadership in respect of paper manufacturing.
Paper mills have come up on both sides of the Hoogly River at Naihati, Kankinara, Alambazar and Tribeni near Kolkata. A paper mill has also been set up at Raniganj. The most important factors attributing to the development of paper industry in this region are:
(i) Availability of coal from Raniganj and Jharia coal fields and hydro-electricity from the Damodar Valley Corporation.
(ii) Bamboo-the raw material is brought from Bihar and Orissa and rags and waste paper is collected from the urban population of Kolkata and other centres. Sabai grass is obtained from Madhya Pradesh and bagasse from U.P and Bihar.
(iii) Kolkata serves as the largest market for paper, being the leading industrial, commercial and educational centre.
(iv) The Hoogly river provides clean water.
(v) Kolkata provides port facilities.
(vi) The region is served by rail, road and water transportation.
Paper industry has been set up in many other states of India. It is because of :
(i) Use of hydro-electricity as a source of power.
(ii) Growth of urban centres in different states serving as markets for paper because of development of industries, educational facilities, banking and financial institutions etc.
Paper mills are located in U.P, Bihar, Orissa, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. In U.P paper mills are at Saharanpur, Lucknow and Kanpur. The mills use sabai grass which grows in the foot hills of the Himalayas.
Bagasse for the mills is obtained from local sugar mills. Rags, waste paper, hemp and jute waste are used for making coarse paper. Coal is brought from Raniganj and Jharia coalfields.
There is plenty of market for paper in the state and elsewhere in the country. Labour is locally available because of dense population in the state. In Bihar, paper mills have come up in the centres of Dalmianagar and Darbhanga.
Dalmianagar is one of the most important paper making centres of India. Bihar mills depend upon local sources of coal, labour and raw material. In Orissa paper mills are at Brijrajnagar and Koraput has been exported in 1999-2000 mainly to the neighbouring countries.