The Nocte Timber Industries will cover the timber industries located in Deomali and Khonsa town of Tirap district since 1962, which were owned and operated by Nocte industrialists. These industries gave the Nocte people unprecedented wealth, respect and recognition throughout Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and others. The three industries are as follow:
Nocte Timber Company Limited, popularly known as NTC, was the first timber industry in Tirap. It was the most profitable industry in the area and had sold products, from 1980 to 1985, worth Rs. 17.05 crores, which is equivalent to Rs. 343.77 crores in 2020. The Namsang-Borduria Fund (NBF) controlled by the Chief of Namsang and Borduria, which was concerning itself with the socio-economic development of the Namsang-Borduria Area, played an important role in the set-up of NTC Ltd. By 1980, NBF had the controlling majority of 61 percent shares in NTC Ltd. However, when the government took over the industry, the controlling majority shares of 51 percent and the Management of NTC Ltd. were entrusted to the public sector undertaking Arunachal Pradesh Forest Corporation (APFC), while the remaining 49 percent was retained with NBF.
Corporate Identity Number: U20211AR1962PLC001199
On 17 November 1962, Nocte Timber Company Limited (NTC) was incorporated and set up at Deomali in Tirap district by the British owned Assam Railway and Trading Corporation Limited (ARTC). It was classified as a non-government company and was a subsidiary of the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Corporation (APFC) and was registered at Registrar of Companies, Shillong. The industry had an equity base of Rs. 6 lakhs against 60,000 shares. The construction cost was around Rs. 1.37 crore, which is equivalent to Rs. 98.47 crores in 2020. See more details on the Construction Cost of NTC Ltd.
NTC Ltd. produces mainly commercial plywood and allied products such as marine plywood, shuttering ply, block boards, flush doors, cork, straw, plaiting materials, etc. and a marginal number of sawn timbers. The installed capacity for plywood was 15 lakhs square meter per year and for sawn timber, it was around 2000 cubic meter per year. The industry produced plywood at an Annual Capital Utilisation Level of over 90 percent, but sawn timber was produced only when the extracted logs were deemed unfit for plywood production. The industry had never faced any problem regarding the supply of logs. However, the company did realize the possibilities of shortage in the future and therefore, it gradually made plans toward product intensification, greater sophistication in production technology, and qualitative changes in the production schedule. “Already efforts are on to increase the recovery rate of face veneer from the currently accepted optimum level of about 60 percent. The management plans to further modernize the plant in a phased manner by bringing in recent innovation in plywood technology.” The products of the NTC Ltd. were of top quality and were in high demand and were sold in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Madras.
The NTC Ltd. sold its finished products on a wholesale basis and all the transactions were done in cash only. In its pricing policy, the management of NTC Ltd. followed the guidelines of the Assam Plywood Manufacturers Association with discounts after taking into consideration the company’s location and other market considerations.
In 1988, NTC Ltd. had 545 regular workers, which was an increase of 19.12 percent since 1981. There were 49 unskilled female workers, out of which 13.3 percent were Nocte. There was no local workforce among the industry’s 58 skilled workers, 65 supervisory personnel, and 3 staff functionaries. However, in 1974, Shri Wangpha Lowang, who was a minister at that time, was appointed as the Director of NTC Ltd. until the industry's liquidation in 2012. In later years, he appointed a talented Nocte student with a degree in business administration, Shri Wangki Lowang as the Manager of NTC Ltd. As of 2020, Wangki Lowang is the legislature of 54 Namsang Constituency and Minister of DoTCL, PHE & WS.
As of 1988, the NTC Ltd. used to pay its skilled workers a daily wage of somewhere between Rs. 18 and Rs. 20 and its unskilled workers were paid Rs. 12. The wage rate was a little higher than that of the other two timber companies in Deomali: Narottam Co-operative Industry Limited and Narottam Udyog Limited. For this reason, the NTC Ltd. enjoyed the supply of a stable labour force. The workers were provided with the basic minimum welfare services including housing, electricity, water, education, health facilities, etc.
Under Assam Railway and Trading Corporation Limited (ARTC) from 1962 to 1970s, the NTC Ltd. maintained a preferential policy for the Nocte people wherein up to 7.5 percent concession was given to locals in case of tenders valued below Rs. 50,000.
But after the NTC Ltd. came under the control of Arunachal Pradesh Forest Corporation (APFC), it was looked upon by the locals with reservation because it did not have any local preference in their policy frame. For example, NTC Management made it compulsory for the candidates to be a matriculate for the post of factory supervisor, which was a big feat for the people of Deomali at that time. Nocte people who were ninth standard pass were also disqualified for the said post. Under APFC, the NTC Ltd. manipulated the share of Namsang Borduria Fund and reduced it from a majority share of 61 percent to only 49 percent, and the other 51 percent majority share was owned by the APFC. The owners of other timber industries such as NCI Ltd. accused APFC to be biased in timber allotment. NTC Ltd. being a subsidiary of APFC, enjoyed special qualitative and location favours.
Narottam Co-operative Industry Limited, popularly known as NCI, is also located in Deomali and is less than 2 kilometers away from Nocte Timber Company Limited (NTC Ltd.). It was named after Narottam, the name that was given to Lotha Khunbao, Chief of undivided Namsang-Borduria-Laptang, by his spiritual guru, Sri Ram, when he accepted Vaishnavism in the 1700s.
Inspired by the flourishing growth of NTC Ltd, NCI Ltd. was set up by the Namsang Borduria Fund (NBF), under the co-operative fold with more local participation. The emergence of NCI Ltd. was marked with much local enthusiasm and hope.
NCI Ltd. was registered under the Co-operative Societies Act in 1972. The industry was inaugurated by Shri Braj Kumar Nehru, the then Governor of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, and Tripura, on 2 March 1972. NCI Ltd. Complex\ was built on 15-hectare land obtained by government allotment. The set-up of It had approximately Rs. 10.19 lakhs, which is equivalent to Rs. 3.8 crores in 2020, share capital held by 3,527 families of the Namsang-Borduria Area. It was financed by the Arunachal Pradesh State Co-operative Apex Bank Ltd. (APSCAB). The bank had sanctioned medium- and short-term loans worth Rs. 55 lakhs, which is equivalent to Rs. 21.1 crores in 2020. By 1988, it availed Rs. 13.27 lakhs, which is equivalent to Rs. 51.1 lakhs in 2020, of short-term loan.
For more local participation, the share capital of the NCI Ltd. was borrowed from APSCAB and was operated by the NBF. Hence, every Nocte household was made a primary member of one share each worth Rs. 250, which is equivalent to Rs. 9,630.11 in 2020. While most of the 3,515 shares were worth Rs. 250 each, the leading families were issued shares of higher value. The Chief of Namsang and Borduria had one share each worth Rs. 20,000, which is equivalent to Rs. 7.7 lakhs in 2020, and ten influential families had one share each worth Rs. 10,000, which is equivalent to Rs. 3.85 lakhs in 2020.
The NCI Ltd. primarily engaged in the manufacture of sawn timber, veneer in both dry and green form, black-board, plywood, etc. In late 1983, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh banned the outflow of veneer and thus, the industry began to produce plywood. Due to the ban, the profits of the industry were almost halved in 1984. In 1985, the industry suffered a loss to the tune of Rs. 35 lakhs, which is equivalent to Rs. 4.47 crores in 2020.
The products of the NCI Ltd. were mainly sold in Assam and elsewhere. The sale of the products was done through two contractors: one local and the other a leading non-local businessman settle in Tinsukia, Assam. In 1987, the industry was able to supply only 60 percent of the contracted quantity despite high market demand.
The price of the products of the NCI Ltd. was fixed by the NCI Management on the basis of costs and other market considerations.
As of 1985, the NCI Ltd. had a total strength of 175 regular workers. There were 105 unskilled workers and out of them, 15 were women as well one staff member. Most of the unskilled local workers were educated up to the eighth or ninth standards and were reported to be of average potential. Skilled workers stand at 35 and like the NTC Ltd., this category also did not have any local worker. There were 25 advisory and management staffs out of which only 3 were locals. The strength of the staff functionaries stood at 10 and none of them were local. The industry also took up an apprentice scheme for developing the local manpower for technical and other jobs, and by 1988 had trained 4 persons at the supervisory level.
The daily wage rate at the NCI Ltd. was lower than that of NTC Ltd. Skilled workers at NCI Ltd. were paid not more than Rs. 10 against Rs. 20 at NTC Ltd. And unskilled workers at NCI Ltd. were paid only Rs. 10 against Rs. 12 at NTC Ltd. Unskilled workers with years of experience were about paid about Rs. 11 per day which is much lower compared to the prescribed minimum wage rate and the rate at various plywood industries in the area. The NCI Ltd. could not provide the much-desired welfare facilities to its workers like the NTC Ltd.
In 1988, the NCI Ltd. faced many operational difficulties in project implementation such as an irregular supply of labour, transportation, quality etc. The main problem faced by the industry was the acute shortage of timber. The quota allotted to the NCI Ltd. by the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Corporation (APFC) was not sufficient. But sometimes, the industry could not extract even the allotted amount of timber due to various problems.
The NCI Ltd. faced many financial problems after the Government of Arunachal Pradesh banned the outflow of green veneer and introduced new policy for importing the same. In addition to all these, the NCI Ltd. also faced organisational inadequacies and constraints that are characteristic of most co-operative undertakings.
Narottam Udyog Limited was the last timber industry to start in Deomali and it was a full-fledged private industry owned by a Nocte industrialist. The industry is also named after Chief Lotha Khunbao who accepted Vaishnavism in 1700s.
Narottam Udyog Limited, popularly know as Udyog, was set up on 3 September 1977 under the private sector, 1.1 kilometres away from NTC Ltd. and 3 kilometres away from NCI Ltd. The industry was licensed under Shri Wangmai Rajkumar, who was the Acting Chief of Namsang, and the father of Shri Wangcha Rajkumar, a three-time Congress MP from East Parliamentary Constituency of Arunachal Pradesh who was assassinated on 23 December 2007. However, the functional owner of the firm was a leading Marwari businessman from Assam, who also owned a major plywood manufacturing industry at Lekhapani in Assam. The local owner draws a mutually agreed commission.
The Udyog was located on a government allotted land and did not face any pre-implementation problems. Before the ban of veneer export in 1983, the industry concentrated on production of veneer only and produced it much beyond the installed capacity level. Plywood production was nominal. But by 1987, the industry started to produce plywood and allied products.
The Narottam Udyog Limited had approximately 140 unskilled casual workers in 1985 and the number of female workers were relatively larger. About 20 per cent of the unskilled casual workers were local tribal.
The male workers were paid a daily minimum wage of Rs. 12.50, while the female workers were paid Rs. 11.50 for the same kind of job. The wage rate is still better than that of the NCI Ltd. workers and the Udyog workers are content with their pay and living conditions.
Many local job-seekers used to turn-up off and on during agricultural off-seasons and school vacations asking for any job the industry can provide. The management tries to keep them satisfied. Some petty contracts for timber extraction and allied work were also given to the local people. These allowances and a sympathetic personalised approach towards the local people earned the Udyog a favoured place among the Nocte people as compared to that of NTC Ltd. and NCI Ltd.
Refer to The tables below for the statement of timber extraction, state of sales and net profit, dividend paid by NTC Ltd. to Namsang-Borduria Fund (NBF) and statement of production of the above three timber industries from 1980 to 1985:
Kerelean conservationist, T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad was distressed on seeing the destruction of pristine wooded areas in Gudalur in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. These wooded areas, Janmam Lands (absolute proprietary lands), of the Nilambur Kovilakam, had been taken over by the State of Kerala following the enactment of the Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act of 1969. The states were unable to protect the forests and therefore in September 1995, Thirumulpad filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India : Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202 of 1995 to put a ban on these activities.
After a year long battle, on 12 December 1996, a bench of India's apex court led by Chief Justice Jagdish Saran Verma and Justice Bhupinder Nath Kirpal passed an interim order and directed the following:
1. All on-going activity within any forest in any state throughout the country, without prior permission of Central Government, must stop forthwith.
2. Running of saw mills including veneer or plywood mills and mining of any mineral, being non-forest purposes, not permissible without prior approval of Central Government and must stop forthwith.
3. Felling of trees in Tirap and Changlang in state of Arunachal Pradesh to be totally banned.
4. Felling of trees in all other forests to remain suspended in accordance with working plan of state government, as approved by Central Government.
5. Movement of cut trees and timber from any of the seven North Eastern states to any other state to be completely banned.
6. All the states must constitute Expert Committees and submit report to the Supreme Court.
7. Specific directions for states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu also issued.
8. Notwithstanding the closure of any saw mills or other wood-based industry pursuant to this order, the workers employed in such units will continue to be paid their full emoluments due and shall not be retrenched or removed from service for this reason.
9. Ministry of Railways to file an affidavit giving full particulars including the extent of wood consumed by them, the source of supply of wood, and the steps taken by them to find alternatives to the use of wood.
10. These orders and directions to continue till further orders of the Court and will operate and be complied with by all concerned, notwithstanding any order at variance, made or which maybe made hereafter, by any authority, including the Central or any state government or any court (including High Court) or Tribunal.
As a result, timber industries of Tirap such as Nocte Timber Company Limited (NTC), Narottam Co-operative Industry Limited (NCI), Narottam Udyog Limited and at least four other industries in Khonsa-Borduria area came to a grind halt leading to loss of thousand metric tonnes of timber logs, crores of rupees and untold miseries to the lives of thousands of native businessmen.
After the ban on the timber industries of Tirap, the biggest industry : Nocte Timber Company Limited (NTC Ltd.) was liquidized as follows:
Since, the Namsang-Borduria Fund (NBF) had 49 per cent share in the NTC Ltd. its members took part in every liquidation process of the industry.
The final liquidation process of the NTC Ltd. was done in the NBF Advisory Committee meeting held on 3 July 2012 at K.V.K. Conference Hall, Deomali under the chairmanship of Kamlesh Joshi, IAS, District Commissioner of Tirap.
The meeting was attended by:
1. Wanglin Lowangdong, Chief of Borduria
2. Khamwang Lowangdong, Chief of Namsang
3. Wanglong Rajkumar, Member
4. Wangpon Lowangcha, Member
5. Hatwang Lowang, Member
6. Tumwang Lowang, Member
7. Tingney Tangjang, Member
8. Hangcha Tonrang, Member
9. Wangpha Lowang, Executive Director, NTC Ltd.
10. G. Singpho, SDO, Deomali
11. Executive Engineer (P.H.E.), Khonsa
12. Assistant Engineer (Power), Deomali
The Superintendent of the NBF informed that the liquidation amount of the NTC Ltd. was transferred to NBF bank account from the liquidation account.
The Committee decided the following on the matters of the existing electricity connection and water supply connection in the NTC Ltd. Complex, Deomali:
1. The Power department will maintain all the electricity connections in the NTC Ltd. Complex and the electricity bills be raised individually against the concerned occupants of the building and not in the name of NTC. The electricity bill against the factory will be now raised against the Central Reserve Police Force, who has occupied the said building now.
2. The PHE Department will henceforth provide water supply to the NTC Ltd. Complex through their own source or by using the water pump of NTC Ltd. necessary water charge be realized from the concerned users.
3. The members unanimously opined to retrench the existing staffs of the NTC Ltd. and to refrain following ten staff out of the existing twenty-four staff. The services of the other staffs will be terminated from 1 August 2013. The salary for the month of July 2013 of the mentioned staff will be paid by the NBF.
4. The members unanimously approved the proposal for appointing Wangpha Lowang, Executive Director of NTC Ltd., as Special Invitee of NBF Advisory Committee.
5. The Committee approved for payment of one-month salary to Sachin Shinde, the then DC Tirap, and the Superintendent of NBF, as special honorarium for the service rendered for the early completion of the liquidation process of NTC Ltd., Deomali.
6. Wanglin Lowangdong suggested to hand over some portion of NTC Ltd. land to the Government for establishing the Wangcha Rajkumar Government College after taking necessary compensation.
7. Wanglong Rajkumar suggested for converting the NTC Ltd. factory to any income generating industry.
Note: Download more than 20 documents related to the NTC Ltd.
There are no information available on how the Narottam Co-Operative Industry was sold off or liquidized after the closure. As of the private timber industries in Tirap, the machinery and the assets were probably sold off as per the owner's discretion.
The Nocte Digest would like to thanks Shri H. Chetia, Manager, NTC Ltd. Deomali, for giving us access to the NTC Ltd. factory site at such a short-notice and for guiding us throughout the field work.
The Nocte Digest would like to thank the Commanding Officer of CRPF Deomali for allowing us to take a detailed survey of the NTC Ltd. factory site, which is currently occupied by their unit.
The Nocte Digest would like to thank Shri Kamlin Wangsu for taking a keen interest in our project by accompanying us in the field work. He took all the photos taken at NTC Ltd. site.
The Nocte Digest would like to thank Smt. Chatung Lowang Matey, Assistant Professor at WRG College, for lending us her DSLR for the field work.