Student notebooks, which are in demand as the new academic year begins, have become dearer. Shortage of labour and rising input cost, including price of paper pulp and coal, have increased the price of paper used for notebooks.
Prices of notebooks have increased by Rs.3 to Rs.5, depending on the number of pages, quality of paper and the brand.
According to dealers in the city, the price of notebooks has increased by 15 to 20 per cent, while sources in the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited say the increase is by 5 to 6 per cent. A 190-page notebook made from an A grade paper is priced at Rs.17.
The same was priced at Rs.14 last year.
“This is a huge increase, probably after six years,” says A. Syed Sulthan of S.K. Stores on Bunder Street. According to him, last year one tonne of paper was priced at Rs.40,000. Now it costs Rs.48,000. Second quality paper also has increased from Rs.30,000 to Rs.38,000.
“Load shedding is another problem for those making notebooks as it restrict the work time. A mill that used to be operated for 12-hour is now run for only eight hours,” he says. An official in TNPL says that 90 per cent of the notebook market is dominated by the unorganised sector and this largely determines the prices.
But, for various reasons getting paper pulp has become difficult, resulting in the cost of the raw material going up.
Erode supplies the paper for a number of notebook makers in Chennai.
With rising cost of education and the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee yet to come out with the fee structure, schools and parents are worried.
“We make a small commission by procuring notebooks and textbooks and selling them to students, but this year it will be less. We should have bought notebooks much in advance, may be in December, to tide over the crisis,” says a principal of a school in T.Nagar.
D.C. Kesavan, a parent of a student going to Sri Sankara Vidyashramam, is already feeling the pinch.
“The term fee for my daughter is Rs.9,750, of which Rs.1,875 is the amount charged towards notebooks. I am yet to pay the fee. My entire degree was completed with Rs.5,500, today for my Class I daughter's education I am paying almost the double,” he says.