Newsprint manufacturers write to govt for help amid lockdown
In a letter to the ministry of commerce and industry (DPIIT), dated March 24, the Indian Newsprint Manufacturers Association (INMA) has said the government should consider the domestic newsprint industry under the ambit of the essential commodity act to ensure continuity of production operation.Updated: Mar 27, 2020 14:37 IST
The association of newsprint manufacturers has written to the Union government to issue a direction to states to declare newspaper production as an essential service after some people involved in the process faced difficulties in some states in the wake of the 21-day lockdown announced on Tuesday.
The print media is listed as an essential service, which is allowed to function during the nationwide lockdown announced to control the spread of the coronavirus disease.
In a letter to the ministry of commerce and industry (DPIIT), dated March 24, the Indian Newsprint Manufacturers Association (INMA) has said the government should consider the domestic newsprint industry under the ambit of the essential commodity act to ensure continuity of production operation. The association said mills faced disruption in service in states such as Gujarat, Odisha and Maharashtra.
Secretary general of the INMA, Vijay Kumar told HT that the association has always been committed to providing unstinted support to the domestic print media, but because of the lockdown, several production units are facing difficulty in meeting the demand.
He said even though the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) declared the printing of newspaper under critical infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted operation under essential commodities act, the newsprint producers who supply the basic raw material for print media were not included under the ambit of the same act.
“Though the domestic newsprint industry is a continuous process industry, as a result of the unavoidable nationwide lockdown, our member industries in most of the states were forced to shut down their entire operation to comply with the law, and in some of the states dispatch permission is the critical issue,” he said.
The domestic industry produced about 1.2 million tonnes of paper in the last financial year and is expecting a massive fall in production in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A bulk of newsprint consumed in India is imported. As per estimates, an order of 2.2 million tonnes of newsprint has been placed for the financial year 2020-21.
The Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), an association of private radio stations, has also written to the ministry of information and broadcasting to announce a bailout package for private FM Radios.
In the wake of the pandemic and the subsequent drop in advertisements, the association has sought a year’s moratorium on all license fees and charges by the government and Prasar Bharati.
In a letter to the ministry, dated March 16, the AROI has said government advertising on radio should be restored so that the “industry can get back on its feet to fight and survive the current COVID-19-wrought crisis”.
It has also sought clearance of DAVP payments that have been held up for a long time.
Uday Chawla, secretary general of AROI, told HT that the association has been assured by the government that its request is “under consideration”.
“At this time we are pooling in our resources to serve the people. FM Radio operators have prepared for emergency broadcast and have set up broadcast from home facilities for continuity in broadcast. We have started the Radio4India initiative and a coordination system between the government and the private radio operators is in place to help public get authentic information on private radio networks,” Chawla said.
An official at the MIB said the government is relaying all relevant information, announcements and decisions to the private radio operators in real time to allow them to disseminate these to audiences.