Timber wastes land

Published: Tuesday 31 March 2009

Government move to allow pulp trees on degraded land not sound

PRIVATE paper mills may soon be allowed to develop wasteland as plantations for pulpwood. S P Maurya, director, department of industrial policy and promotion, indicated this at the PapAsia 2009 conference on pulp, paper conversion and packaging industry held in early February.

Only government-owned companies are now allowed to grow pulpwood--timber grown for making wood pulp for paper production--like eucalyptus and acacia. Private companies import pulp and waste paper (for recycling). They also source raw material from farm forests or forests grown on agricultural land by farmers. The companies either collaborate with farmers to grow trees on a portion of their land or buy from them in the open market.

The government had arranged meetings between states and paper companies last year, said Maurya. "Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have shown interest. The land would be leased for a nominal rent. Investments would have to be made by the paper company," he added.

This is the third time the government has mooted such a proposal. All earlier proposals were scrapped following protests by environmentalists, who have opposed such moves.

"Private companies will grow the same species of trees that consume much water," said Chandra Bhushan, associate director, Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based non-profit. He said farm forestry is the most environmentally sustainable practice. It generates income for farmers.

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