Small-scale printing press industry on the verge of collapse, 18 units shut down in Kozhikode
Kozhikode: “Earlier, ration books were printed from this printing press. These books were taken to Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts from here. This press was established in 1985. At present, I’m forced to sell ledgers worth Rs 80,000 as scrap at Rs 3000. I am really disappointed. I never experienced such a crisis earlier,” said Ramesan who runs Shimna Book depot at Kallayi here.
This printing press was closed long time back. Four people are employed here. According to the owner, old printing press units are unable to compete with modern printing units equipped with offset, mini offset and DTP facilities. In crisis, the old press and equipment were sold out at the price of metal.
The crisis due to COVID-19 outbreak also affected small scale printing units a lot.
“Nowadays, nobody visits printing press units. I have displayed my contact number outside the press for the customers. If anyone contacts, I can open the press,” said Ramesan.
As this 63-year-old man’s life is so attached with the printing press, he arrives here every day and lights a lamp not deviating from his years of long practice.
“After my prayers at the press, I will leave to my house near Kallayi railway station. Even though I have no work at the press, I used to return to the press everyday afternoon. Because, I have no other choice,” he added.
This is not only the life of Ramesan, but also many printing press owners who are struggling.
Prasanth, a native of Kuthiravattom was the owner of the popular printing press unit named Prasanth Printers at Palayam here.
“Everyone in this field is almost destroyed. The small-scale printing industry is facing a crisis for a long time. At present, every industry is facing a sort of recession. With the computerisation of the printing press industry, the old printing press units started to collapse. As I failed to survive in the industry, I decided to close the printing press unit,” Prasanth explained his pathetic story.
With the advent of social media, there is no need to print notice and brochures. Nowadays, nobody is arriving to print even wedding invitations and visiting cards. As public events are cancelled due to COVID-19, there are no notices to be printed and circulated. There is no demand for printing of receipt books. In this background, Prasanth Printers, which operated with 12 employees, was forced to shut down.
Prasanth, the owner, sold out the press and equipment and quit the industry.
In 2020, a total of 18 small scale printing press units were closed in the district. At present, only 6 press are operational in Kozhikode town. But most of them are struggling to survive.
Reasons for the crisis
The price of paper increased to Rs 75 to Rs 80 from Rs 60. Following this, many paper mills were shut down permanently in the state. Hence, there is a shortage of paper. The printing press owners complained that the government is not giving any financial assistance to the industry in which around 90,000 people are employed.
“From the last two and a half years, the government did not increase the rate of printing. But the price of printing ink and other materials including chemicals was increased,” they added.
Solutions to help the printing press units
- The government should give contract of printing works to small scale printing units in the state.
- Interest-free loan should be given to the press owners.
- Relaxations should be given to repay loans.
- Press owners and employees should be added in welfare programmes.
- The subsidy should be given in purchase of paper at high price.
- The government should support these small-scale industries like Tamil Nadu.
- Implement a uniform GST rate.
A total of 4008 printing press are functioning in the state. In Kozhikode, 406 press including 517 binding units are identified. As per the statistics in January, a total of 17,600 employees are working at press units in Kozhikode.