Maharashtra forest department bans collection of tendu leaves from areas prone to forest fires

Tendu contractors and gram panchayats to be responsible for prevention and extinguishing of fires

By Aparna Pallavi
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to ban collection and sale of tendu leaves in areas where forest fires occur. The state forest department’s latest tender notice for tendu collection contracts issued on January 17 features a clause that tendu contractors and gram panchayats will be responsible for preventing and extinguishing of fires in tendu units (areas where tendu grows) from January 15 to June 15 every year.

It further says that if a fire covering one hectare or more occurs in a tendu unit between January 15 and the date of auction, the unit will be withdrawn from auction without compensation. If fire takes place after a unit has been auctioned, the contract will be cancelled without compensation and the security deposit of the contractor withheld.

The document also acknowledges that a large number of fires in tendu areas are started deliberately by contractors to get better growth of young tendu plants, which are more commercially valuable.

Contractors’ unhappy

The new regulations have not gone down well with the state association of tendu leaf contractors the Gondia Bidi Leaf Contractors’ Association. They boycotted the tendering process held at the forest department’s office on January 30. Jayesh Patel, president of the association, denies that the tendu contractors deliberately start fire and says the responsibility for preventing fires should rest with the forest dwelling communities. He adds that one of the leading causes of forest fire, the department’s own fire-lines going out of control—a safety measure undertaken to prevent spread of fire by burning dry vegetation—has never been acknowledged by it. “By introducing the clause, the department is putting in danger wages worth Rs 600 crore of the 4.5 lakh tendu collection labourers every year,” he says.

The forest department is firm in its stand. Tendu is not a revenue source for the department as the entire amount earned is passed on to tendu collectors as bonus, says Ramanuj Chaudhary, assistant principal chief conservator of forests. He adds that if contractors do not respond positively, tendu units will be passed on for collection to the gram sabhas and gram panchayats.

Mohan Hirabai Hiralal, veteran forest rights activist, says that while the department’s move will not be sufficient in preventing forest fires, it is a positive step. “This is the first time the department has officially admitted what is common knowledge that tendu contractors are responsible for deliberately starting forest fires. Before this, the department has always blamed forest dwellers, saying fires happen due to carelessness or for the purpose of mahua collection.”


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  • this is very good step taken

    this is very good step taken by maharastra gov. This tough rull shoud be follow by other kendu leaves producing states.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • Everyone (incl Forest and all

    Everyone (incl Forest and all other dept officials)in Gadchiroli and other tendu areas just helplessly watch the forests burning every year for just a handful of more tendu leaves due to heat generated...It is not a question of revenue or wages, but of extinguishing bio-diversity, animals, insects and small trees (rare medicinal plants) due to these fires (manmade)!
    Are the contractors alongwith conservationists and forest dept officials ready to calculate this un-recoverable loss of nature?

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • Mr. Subodh Kulkarni, Forest

    Mr. Subodh Kulkarni,

    Forest Department is Responsible for Kindling of fires.
    People all those who are appointed as forest guards etc are not doing their job responsibly, they just ignore their duties.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • It is not in natural justice

    It is not in natural justice to convict any one due to damage to anyone's other property. The forest department of Maharastra wants to escape from their duty to protect the forests for they are being paid off.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • the forest department of maha

    the forest department of maha take total responsibilties on fire and any other activities why should govt of maha lot of expence in forest staff.the govt gives salary ta da and all facillitys ofter retirment govt gines penson to forest employes.if one beat officer not control his beat who can work min one year in this beat then how can control tendu purcher whole unit its lot of beats who can appoint only few months it is not posible to stop fire beedileaves contractor.wat can do forest department it is shamefull that the foret department who can run their responsibiltys and bring out their responsibiltyeis to other request to maha govt plese strictly follow rules on forest department trader is do bsiness he givee business to govt of maha lots of labours income from tendu leaves trader is a busnessman not a criminal plz dont behave like this .

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • As per your tender condition

    As per your tender condition tendu contractors are responsible for kindling of fire in forest areas from 15 jan 2012 to 15 june 2012.
    from 15 jan2012 to 15march 2012, who were responsible for fire in forest areas. the latest report from media thouands of hectares of forest have burnt. from chandrapur,gadchiroli.nagpur,yavatmal,amravati circles.
    recent report from media says more than 200 hectares of forest land alongwith filled material there in was burnt in kondhali range. the media report says that department of forest is responsible for this fire. what actions were taken against your staff & officers. who were responsible for this?
    and still you are saying tendu contractors are responsible for kindling in forest from 15jan 2012 to 15 june 2012.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • Hamare yaha SAHYDARI TIGER

    Hamare yaha SAHYDARI TIGER RESERVE hai.aur is CORE and BUFFER ZONE me bi log fire lagatd hai.ham fire buzane ki bohot koshish karte hai.lekin aag itni jyada hoti hai ke buz nah sakti.ham sirf 3 log hai.hamare pas na to koi equipment hai na koi support.plz ap kuch kare

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply