Bhubaneswar: In a move to increase livelihood options in tribal-dominated areas against the backdrop of the changing climatic conditions, Odisha has decided to go in for massive pulp wood plantation covering 60,000 hectares over the next five years.
The plantation will be carried out in the public private partnership (PPP) mode, according to a note prepared by the state government.
It said the stress on pulpwood plantations would lead to a win-win situation for farmers and paper manufactures, as the project would cater to the needs of both.
Vagaries of climate and an uncertain market, as also pressure from middlemen, have led to the farmers incurring losses from crop cultivation.
“Through this PPP model, the poor farmers will get direct benefits from their produce through a direct marketing channel of the company,” said the concept note prepared by the state horticulture department.
The project will be implemented in Koraput, Rayagada, Nabrangpur, Malkangiri and Gajapati districts.
The interested industries and horticulture department would identify the farmers for pulpwood plantations, to be carried out in the horti-forestry model.
“The government will facilitate and encourage the farmers to go for pulpwood plantations if they have land. It will be a buy-back system, ensuring a win-win situation for both the farmers and the paper manufacturing companies,” Horticulture Director Susanta Nanda told IANS.
He said it would provide ample scope for sustaining a large number of agro-industries which generate immense employment opportunities.
The government expects the project to generate 20 million man days, which will uplift the socio-economic condition of the tribals.
“The farmers will enter an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the companies so that paper manufactures buy their plants for use in their industries,” Nanda said.
Odisha has a number of paper manufacturing companies, including J.K Paper and Emami Paper Mills, which will benefit from the pulpwood plantations.
“It’s a great initiative by the government. We are happy to partner with the government. The scheme would carter to the need of the company and immensely benefit the farmers in tribal areas,” a senior official of J.K. Paper, which has a paper manufacturing mill in Rayagada district, told IANS.
Many paper industries are importing raw material from Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh to run their mills as raw material is scarce in Odisha, sources said.
As the continuous rise in raw material costs is squeezing their profit margins, paper manufacturers have increased the area under pulpwood cultivation over recent years.
According to a study by Emkay Research, total sowing by leading paper producers was at 315,127 hectares in 2012-13 against 268,246 hectares in the previous year and 202,284 hectares in 2009-10 across the country.
The survival of the human race wouldn’t have been possible without trees
The festival of ‘Van Mahotsav’ is celebrated every year in the country in a bid to raise awareness about the importance of trees
Going by the Van Mahotsav history, the choice of picking the first week of July to celebrate the festival was indeed a visionary move
“A soil adapted to the growth of plants is necessarily prepared and carefully preserved; and, in the necessary waste of land which is inhabited, the foundation is laid for future continents, in order to support the system of the living world.”
– James Hutton
The survival of the human race wouldn’t have been possible without trees. Serving mankind since time immemorial with its shade and cover, food and livelihood resources, trees play a vital role in sustaining life on the planet. As the population in India grows at an uncontrollable rate, the need for more infrastructure and living spaces continues to engorge whatever remains of the forest cover in the country. In fact, according to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the total remaining tree cover of India that included forests and non-forest areas was 24.16% in 2015.
The festival of ‘Van Mahotsav’ is celebrated every year in the country in a bid to raise awareness about the importance of trees and encourage people to plant more of them. The festival finds mass participation of people, including government agencies, civic bodies and educational institutions across the country who come together every year to plant saplings.
Van Mahotsav History
In order to promote annual tree-planting movement, which is also known as Van Mahotsav, the festival was started on August 21, 1950, by Kulapati Dr KM Munshi, then the honoured Union Minister for Agriculture and Food, to create enthusiasm among masses for forest conservation and planting trees. He planted the first of 108 saplings donated by the Delhi Gujarati Samaj. Rendering the idea to that of a festival where the contribution of the silent sentinels towards the planet would be celebrated rather than just organising a plantation drive, he wanted people to be enthusiastic towards the cause just as one would be during other festivals.
Dr KM Munshi also intended to inculcate consciousness and love for trees among the citizens and popularise planting and tending of trees in farms, villages, and municipal and public lands. Interestingly, the term Van Mahotsav first cropped up in July 1947 after a successful tree plantation drive that was held in Delhi and saw the participation of national leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Abdul Kalam Azad.
Going by the Van Mahotsav history, the choice of picking the first week of July to celebrate the festival was indeed a visionary move. Marking the onset of monsoon season in most parts of the country, most saplings planted during this period have more chances of survival than the ones planted during other times of the year.
It is now a week-long festival, celebrated on different days in different parts of India, but usually between 1 July to 7 July. The Van Mahotsav festival began after a flourishing tree planting drive which was undertaken in Delhi, in which national leaders participated. The festival was simultaneously celebrated in a number of states in India. That festival followed the plantation of millions of saplings of diverse species with the energetic participation of local people and various agencies like the forest department. The new awareness spread as the “Chipko Movement” rose in popularity as a crusade to save mother earth.
Aims Of The Van Mahotsav Day
The continuous demolishing level of trees in India has been a problem for a long time, and Van Mahotsav is important in creating awareness of the issues. According to the forest department, for every tree felled ten trees should be planted to make up for its loss. The festival raises the awareness of trees among people and highlights the need for planting and tending of trees as one of the best ways to prevent global warming and reduce pollution. It helps spread awareness about the harm caused by the cutting down of trees, and it is expected that every citizen of India will plant a sapling in the Van Mahotsav week.
Some of the objectives of Van Mahotsav day as visualized by Dr KM Munshi are as follows:
Providing alternative fuel options
2. Provide fodder leaves for cattle to relieve the intensity of grazing over reserved forests
3. To increase production of fruits, which could be added to the potential food resources of the country
4. Aid in creating shelter-belts around agricultural fields to increase their productivity
5. Boost soil conservation and prevent further deterioration of soil fertility
Planting of trees also helps to avoid soil erosion which may cause floods. Apart from all these aids, sowing trees can be extremely effective in slowing down global warming and trees also help in reducing pollution as they make the air cleaner. More than anything else, it offers a natural aesthetic beauty.
VAN Mahotsav India
In India, people celebrate Van Mahotsav day by planting trees or saplings in homes, offices, schools and colleges. The various organizations and volunteers have taken up the free circulation of trees as well. An event that sees lakhs of saplings being planted every year, Van Mahotsav is indeed a celebration of life. With the ever-growing, life-threatening perils of global warming and pollution. The festival aims at increasing the green cover of India.
The stress on planting native trees are more, as they most readily adapt to local conditions, supports local biodiversity and have a high survival rate. In order to supply saplings to various organizations and institutions such as schools, colleges and academic institutions, NGOs and welfare organizations for planting trees, state Governments and civic bodies play a vital role. In India, the most suitable time for tree planting in July, as it is the onset of the monsoon season and likely to be more effective.
As at 2016, tree cover of India (including forests and non-forest areas) was 23.81%. The Government of India has set a target of 33% cover by 2020. In 2015 the State Government of Assam announced that it intended to plant 25 lakh(2.5 million) trees. The officials of Assam said, this would not only benefit the environment but also have a direct influence on the socio-economic development of Assam, which has 70% or its people working in the agricultural sector. Due to the recent state drought, the Maharashtra state government has taken upon itself to give the state a green makeover. The lack of green cover or forests not only disturbs the delicate balance of nature but also harms the ecosystem of the animals. Droughts and floods are a great indicator of this disturbance.
To lend some encouraging support, even the Indian Army has taken up the plantation drive and is aiming at planting lakhs of tree saplings in the state of Maharashtra. Reportedly, the army and the state government have already planted at least seven or eight lakh trees across Maharashtra’s state capital, Mumbai. On 5th June 2015, Indian Naval Academy Ezhimala also came up with tree plantation drive.
‘The Better India’ alongside ‘NAATA Foundation’ has initiated a program, ‘Plant a Tree and Gift a Living, by planting 5000 fruit trees in Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai. Each of these saplings needs an approximate amount of Rs 100 for their nourishment over the period of 2-3 years, after which they will be sufficient to supplement the income of the community by adding an additional source of livelihood, while also restoring the tree cover of the area.