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Govt publishing firm gathers dust

- Modernisation plan eludes corporation with fixed deposit of Rs 140cr

Bihar Textbook Publishing Corporation has been defunct from 2009 owing to alleged lack of government initiative.

The firm, founded to print textbooks for students of government schools, has more than 90 employees. The government, however, is in no mood to revive the institution.

The corporation has a fixed deposit of more than Rs 140 crore but there are no modernisation or revamp plans for it. The firm pays Rs 40 crore a year to private companies to get school textbooks printed.

According to sources, the corporation could easily save more than Rs 40 crore per year if it upgrades machines. But education minister Brishen Patel said: “The education department has no plans to modernise the press in the near future.” Patel said it was observed that the corporation would suffer financially if it printed the textbooks.

The issue of the corporation was recently raised by BJP MLA Achchudanand in the Assembly. The legislator from Mahnar Assembly segment in Vaishali said: “The state government spends crores in getting books printed by private firms but has no plans to modernise its own unit.”

A source claimed that many in the printing business had become millionaires bagging the print order for books. The owners of private firms also include politicians from the ruling party, he claimed.

When The Telegraph visited the corporation press at Budh Marg, the government negligence was palpable. Without any maintenance for years, the German printing machines have become defunct and the place has become a dumping ground for paper rolls.

Every year, the corporation gets more than 10.5 crore books printed by private publishers in Bihar and outside the state, including Agra, Mathura, Allahabad, Varanasi, Calcutta and Ranchi.

According to sources, of the Rs 40 crore spent by the corporation in getting textbooks printed, around Rs 37.3 crore is paid to printers in Bihar. Another Rs 2.7 crore is paid to firms outside the state.

Every year, the Bihar Education Project Council provides Rs 260 crore to print and distribute textbooks. A corporation official said: “Of the Rs 260 crore, the corporation spends around Rs 160 crore to buy paper from Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited, Calcutta. Around Rs 40 crore is spent on printing by private firms, while Rs 20 crore is spent on transportation.”

An employee of the corporation said: “We have seen the firm’s golden phase. Machines from Germany were installed. It was a matter of pride for any individual to get a job here.”