Bihar State Text Book Publishing Corporation Ltd, which publishes books for government schools, has finally become a profit-making company after being in the red for several years.
"There was a time when the corporation could not pay salary to its employees. The situation has changed and we have accumulated a profit of Rs 80 crore in the past three years," JKP Singh, the managing director of the corporation, said. He added: "The main function of the corporation is to print text books for students from classes I to XII and after deliver those at the block level for distribution among the pupils."
Sources in the corporation said the turnaround in the company's fortune was a result of better efficiency, transparency in its operation, maintaining high standard and regular monitoring of work by education minister P.K. Shahi and principal secretary Amarjeet Sinha. The company prints around 10.5 crore books a year.
A source said in the past few years, the corporation has ensured timely delivery of books at government schools. Three years ago, the students used to get books either in November or December instead of April, when an academic session begins in school.
Singh said: "Around eighty per cent of the books meant for distribution among students this year have already been delivered at the block level. The remaining 20 per cent books will be delivered by next month."
Another factor that helped the corporation was the check on the involvement of middlemen in printing and distribution of books ' a trend that was common even a few years ago. To make the system more effective, the corporation decided to purchase papers from Hindustan Paper Corporation, a Government of India undertaking. The paper is bought from HPC's Gawahati unit. The corporation has made a payment of Rs 125 crore to purchase nearly 30 tonnes of papers from HPC for the 2013-14 fiscal.
The papers, after being purchased, are sent to Paper Research Institute Saharanpur (UP) for test. The papers bear the water-mark logo of the text book corporation and Hindustan Paper Corporation. SP Singh, the works manager of the text book corporation, said: "The idea to used water mark logo is that only paper weighing 70 GSM (grammage per square meter) is used for printing books."
He added that a slight change in the paper's weight can incur huge loss. "If the paper weight of 65 GSM is used, there could be a loss to over Rs 10 crore," he said.
After purchasing papers and the test, the book corporation floats national tenders for printing books. There are 65 printing press spread over Mathura, Allahabad, Varanasi, Ranchi and Patna which has been assigned the job of printing books. As the text book corporation is an undertaking of the state government, it gets order for printing and supply of books from Bihar Education Project Council (BECP) as part of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, for which the BECP makes payment to the book corporation.