Demystifying Paper Veil

by | Jul 29, 2018

Guilt is a large swamp; once you’re into it, driving out is hard. To me, guilt comes in three ways – Sometimes, I exploit myself and keep drowning in; at times I sulk and sleep in hibernation, and at other times I try to pull myself out, experiencing a rise in dopamine levels and feel better about myself.

Climate change reports dying coral reefs, melting ice caps and scary pictures of plastic killing animals. We are at the verge, almost losing. How are we coping with this impenitence? Most of us are drowning ourselves in the pool of consumerism and extensively increasing our appetite for things we don’t even need. Environmental magazines tell us about the failures humankind has endured, pushing us into the remorseful world, but I don’t think this way of encouragement is working.

During my field visits at Kashipur in Rayagada district of Odisha, we often notice sparse clayey land, rice fields, mountains with and without plantations, trees, remains of shifting cultivation land and barrel of eucalyptus trees. Farmers (men and women) sweat and work on difficult topographic terrain. Our team’s innate concern is often about how J K Paper Mill at Rayagada is capitalizing on natural resources and farmers by encouraging peasants to plant Eucalyptus trees. Such discussions occasionally happen while we sip juices from tetra packs.

Quick fact: The process for recycling tetra packages is non-existent. Their coating, made of high quality glossy packaging boards of wood, make them inapplicable for reuse.

While brainstorming about this month’s blog topic, the procrastinating monkey in me jumped off and started browsing about Eucalyptus, its adverse effects and JK Mill in Rayagada. After opening almost fifteen tabs, I realized that we’ve been discussing only one side on the story, which is usually the darker side. Here are some of my insights:

  1. In 1988, The National Forest policy restricted commercial plantations in forests and asked industries to source wood from farmers instead.
  2. To reduce middlemen, JK Paper Mill started purchase-at-gate scheme in 2009.
  3. In 2013, 61% of the wood was generated by Agro-forestry.
  4. In 2014, JK Paper Rayagada sourced 85% of its wood from farm forestry.
  5. Availability of land and transportation costs are major constraints in agro-forestry.
  6. It takes 7-8 years for eucalyptus plantations to mature for timber. Alternately, they can be raised for poles and paper pulp at 4 -5 years of rotation time. This makes it more viable for marginal farmers.
  7. Eucalyptus grows faster. Hence, its water and nutrient absorption is more than Sisam and Jamun.
  8. Inter-cropping is possible. Peas, potato or any other vegetables can be grown in 4 meter wide strips. Marginal farmers can plant them on their land boundaries.
  9. Pulp and Paper Industry consumes only 3% of the national requirement of wood while major consumption is in the form of fuel – wood (89.5%) and timber (7.5%).
  10. Paper mills in India generate 60% of the power by utilizing black liquor from pulping process. Earlier, paper mills used to consume 200 cubic m of water to produce a tonne of paper, which has now reduced to 50 cubic m and efforts are being made to further take it down to 40 cubic m.

The question we need to ask is not “Should we plant Eucalyptus?”, but “How should we manage Eucalyptus plantation?”

The industrialist self-reproach of paper mills has led them towards solving the crisis instead of an easy retreat. Talking about solutions, a report from South China suggests mixed plantation of eucalyptus and alder-leaf birch increases biodiversity, mitigates soil degradation that may occur from short rotation practices, reduces soil water losses and be sustainable as well as economically feasible. Delayed harvests of alder-leaf birch mixed with eucalyptus would continue to provide protection to soil when eucalyptus is harvested. When it comes time to harvest birch, eucalyptus will be in place to continue to provide soil protection.

…and switching to glass bottles can be more sustainable.


Eucalyptus Plantation good or bad
Allelopathic Effects of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus Invasion in Riparian Forests
Paper Industry – Myth vs Realities
Nabard’s Model Bankable Project
Clonal Eucalyptus Plants
JK Paper working on raw material security – Business Line
JK Paper – Environment Initiatives
Farmers Assured fair deal for eucalyptus wood pulp | Bhubhaneswar News
J K Paper Mills – Down to Earth
Massive Market expansion on cards for JK Paper – Business Line
Forest to Farms – Agro forestry

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