Paper Mills, Avoidance of Pollution Control, Copying of Equipment & Patents in India

By Deepak Dewan
January 1999

The Author is President cum CEO of Dewan Kraft Systems in New Delhi, India.

Paper Mills are divided in 3 categories:

  1. Forest Based
  2. Secondary Fibre Based and
  3. Agricultural Residue Based.

The last category is most polluting, as so far not more than 10% have installed Chemical Recovery Systems. Although most have installed comprehensive Effluent Treatment Facilities, but according to a study done by Government owned organisation National Environmental Engineering Research Institute - NEERI (which has stated in Hon'ble Supreme Court of India), that the Effluent Treatment Facilities are either inadequate and/or are non-functional.

However, another Government owned apex organisation to control pollution, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), on direction of Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, has collected samples from Mills and has stated that the BOD of effluent from these mills is within limits of 20 mg/L.

The facts are, however, very different. Certain of these mills are still discharging extremely polluting effluent. The modus operendi of getting the apex body to file that BOD is within limits quite simple. The apex body and the State Pollution Control Board personnell inform the mills of their impeding visit, one week in advance. The Mills bypass their effluent and fill their effluent treatment plants with fresh water. The inspectors from the apex body and State Pollution Boards do their duty of coming and filling their sampling bottles with effluent, which is in reality fresh water. And dutifully file the report that BOD is within limits.

Damage to Environment, R&D Efforts, & Equipment Suppliers

Most of these Mills' effluent drains into the main rivers of India. Most of these water bodies are seriously affected. It is assumed that most of the Government Organisations are not ignorant of this state of affairs, and if not, they ought to be aware of such a state of affairs. The facts & figures reflect that the personnell in these organisations prefer to take no official action. The Mills often form various organisations, which basically function to

These mills copy successfull equipment quite frequently. The Law on Patents is fairly strict, but it is significant that no Damages have ever been granted by the Indian Courts, even in cases wherein infringement was proved conclusively. The Indian Courts in general ask the infringement to be stopped and feel that that is a sufficient compensation.

This state of affairs is affecting R&D efforts as well as Equipment Manufacturers & Suppliers. The Mills would copy equipment even if the savings to them would be as low as US$ 1000/-. Although new technology for fighting pollution has been evolved by several OEMs, they are seriously affected as they face a dillema, if they supply it will be copied and the demand is low as the apex body for Pollution Control has given the Mills a clean chit.

The Mills would rather invest in expansion, rather than Pollution Control. These facts are quite evident even by cursorily examining the Mills, which are adding to their existing capacity almost every year, but neither reporting expanded capacity, nor investing in pollution control. The clear cut evidence even for a passerby are the additional spherical digestors in every mill, and a growing thick stream of foul smelling, dark brown effluent eminating from the Mills, and the growing despair of ordinary citizens and deterioration of quality of life & precious water bodies.


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