Take urgent steps to save KPM
PRODUCTION at Karnaphuli Paper Mills, situated at Chandraghona in Chattogram, has remained suspended since August 6 causing the country's lone State-owned paper mill a loss of over Tk 5 crore. KPM authorities alleged Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited stopped supplying gas to the mill for payment of arrears. At present, nearly 400 workers, paid on weekly basis, have found themselves in deep trouble. They have been staging demonstration demanding resume the production immediately.
According to KGDCL, KPM is supposed to pay it around Tk 75 crore in dues. KGDCL authorities said they did not disconnect the gas connection over the payment. They wrote several letters to the KPM authorities in the past to immediately replace the metering station, which was bought in the 1980s and was about to cross the expiry period. On the other hand, KPM authorities said the station belongs to the KGDCL and that they have nothing to do about it.
What's more important is, more than a thousand workers rely on the factory to run their families. They will suffer badly, if the production not resumes soon. KPM, on an average, is facing a loss of Tk 25 crore every month. Its total dues, including payment to different organisations and workers' arrears, are nearly Tk 700 crore. The mill had already incurred a loss of nearly Tk 5.24 crore due to the shutdown in the last 18 days.
The KPM was established in 1951. At that time, it was said to be the biggest paper mill in Asia with its three thousand workers. This State-owned factory, which is now under Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation, has been facing multifaceted problems due to absence of skilled leadership and lack of long-term plan. In 1976, the government took an initiative to identify the problems of KPM and approved a reconstruction plan of Tk 240 million in 1979-80 involving foreign experts. However, KPM was fully recovered by 1991 and got ready to export to foreign market. But this golden period didn't stay longer. Like other state-owned establishments, it again pushed down to the floor.
Government must take initiatives to rescue the KPM from drowning into debt and arrears.