To establish the wood-based industry in India, the state forest department will issue about 500 new licenses. These licences would be issued online, through an e-citizen service — grant of license to establish wood-based industries — which is being developed by the forest department.
“Setting up such industries would encourage planting of more trees under farm forestry, and help achieve the goals of Haryana Forest Policy. Licences to already-established wood-based industries would also be renewed online,” said the state forestry minister Rao Narbir Singh.
“The department had already launched two e-citizen services — permission for felling of trees and NOCs in respect of Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, forest and restricted lands — last February. These two services have been integrated with Right to Service Act,” he said.
But city-based environmentalists are welcoming the government’s decision, with caution. “Wood prices have declined significantly in the last few years. Issuance of new licences should hopefully lead to increased processing, demand and better prices for Haryana’s farmers in the future. At the same time, care should be taken in locating the units at a distance from existing forests,” said environmental analyst Chetan Agarwal.
“Growing trees for timber requires a long gestation period, say about 5-7 years. In this period, if demand falls, farmers will lose out. We need a balance between demand and supply of timber, in order for the farmer to benefit from this move,” he added.
Others said this will bring more transparency in the department. “Now that the government has decided to issue new licences to wood-based industries, this will bring more transparency as earlier, people used to sell their licences for a price. Also, since the already existing licenses will be renewed online, it will bring transparency and efficiency in the system, as the file can be tracked online by anyone,” said another environmentalist.
Currently, digitisation of block forest areas in 14 districts have been carried out by the forest department during 2016-17, through the Haryana Space Applications Centre (HARSAC). The digitisation work is also in progress for the districts of Mahendergarh, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Mewat, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Rewari.
The department had planted 141.01 lakh saplings over 18,842 hectares during the same period while 31.56 lakh plants have also been sold or distributed. Under the ‘Har Ghar Hariyali’ programme, aimed at increasing green cover, over 12.58 lakh saplings have been planted in various households.
Rao Narbir said nature education and awareness programmes have also been launched from Kalesar, to sensitise people about preserving and protecting natural resources. Nature Education and Awareness Centres have been established at Hisar, Jind and Bhindawas for this purpose.
Source: Times of India