Laxmi Niwas Bangur, affectionately known as “LN” among friends and family, was born on August 26, 1949, in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. He received his bachelor of commerce degree from Calcutta University in 1970.He hails from the family of Bangurs of Kolkata, well known in India’s trade and industry for over a century. After graduation, he joined the family business with diversified responsibility and worked his way up to join the Board of Directors of the Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills (APPM) in 1985 and assumed its chairmanship in 1992.Under his leadership, APPM went through many major modernization projects covering pulp bleach plant, chemical recovery systems, and introduction of chlorine dioxide, a more environmentally friendly bleaching chemical. The plant capacity was raised to 160,000 metric tons per annum from 86,000 metric tons per annum.
Raw material was a major bottleneck for APPM. Visualizing the problem in the eighties, Mr. Bangur embarked upon an innovative and ambitious program of generating the requisite wood based fibrous raw material through a tree plantation program in collaboration with and cooperation of the local farmers by motivating and supporting them to utilize their marginal and degraded lands which were of low or no productive use for them. His pioneering initiative was started in 1989, integrating pulpwood-based farm forestry with the industry in seven (7) cyclone-prone coastal regions of India’s eastern coastal line with the Bay of Bengal. This dynamic approach of his not only allowed large tracts of marginal and degraded lands to be put to productive use but also provided some protection against cyclones, etc. The forestry focus was primarily on fast growing varieties of trees such as Subabul, Casuarina, and Eucalyptus. It also benefited the farmers by achieving high productivity per unit area on a continuing basis resulting in much-desired improvement in the socio-economic status of the small and marginal farmers and local inhabitants of these regions.
Over the years, around 120,000 acres (about 49,000 hectares) of marginal lands have been brought under plantation utilizing over 340 million seedlings while providing an excellent opportunity for rural employment. Simultaneously, developmental efforts were also made to harness biotechnology, including clonal propagation of wood species. This helped produce better fiber and higher yields on a sustained basis. Raw material is no longer a problem for APPM. In fact, Mr. Bangur’s initiative has given a new lifeline to the industry.
Mr. Bangur’s efforts were recognized in the years 1999 and 2000 when the mill was rated as the second greenest mill in India under a study program carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment with joint sponsorship of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India and the UNDP, and followed by the award “Vanamitra” (friend of forests) given by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for its exceptional contribution in the field of tree planting and wasteland development and utilization.
Mr. Bangur’s initiative and innovative efforts have also enabled the pulp and paper industry sector to morph into an honorable and responsible citizen of the society which otherwise is wrongly perceived as a destroyer of the forest wealth. Also, during the devastating tsunami of 2004, the high-density plantation of Casuarinas along the coastal belt helped contain the damages of life and property.
Mr. Bangur is a committee member of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bharat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a member of the Managing Committee of Bangur Charitable Trust. He is also Chairman and Managing Director of Maharaja Shree Umaid Mills Ltd. and Peria Kermalai Tea Estates as diversified business interests of his.
Mr. Bangur is married to Alka and together they have three children: one girl (Sheetal) and two boys (Shreeyash and Yogesh).