'Over 300 plywood units in South India illegal'

As many as 300 plywood manufacturing units in South India, including Karnataka, are functioning without the required permits from the Forest department.

B N Mohanty, Director, Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Centre (IPRTC), told reporters, “The Supreme Court in its 2002 order restricting the number of plywood industries depending on forests for timber, made it mandatory for the plywood manufacturing units to register themselves with the forest department. But the Forest Act or rules were not amended because of which these industries are working without a licence.”

“In order to regularise the illegal plywood units, the owners with the help of Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Centre will send a proposal to the State government which will be forwarded to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and then to Central Empowered Committee and to Supreme Court, the IPRTC director told reporters speaking on the sidelines of an interactive session held here on Wednesday. The plywood unit owners, IPRTC officials and the research heads from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala took part in the session.

Mohanty said that the IPRTC is doing research to identify which tree can be used as alternatives to meet demand. Malabar Neem, Silver Oak, Rubber Wood and Eucalyptus can be used for plywood, particle and medium-density fibre. In Punjab and Haryana Eucalyptus is being grown to harvest the plywood or timber from its bark while Karnataka is promoting Malabar Neem for plywood. The industries in the State should exploit Eucalyptus for making paper, infilling and plywood. They should know that there are alternative to Teak and Rosewood, Mohanti explained.

He added that there is a shortfall in demand and supply which needs to be met. There is a demand for 123 million cubic metres of wood in India. Of which, three million cubic metres are extracted from forest while 8.5 million cubic metres from plantations. Another 6.5 million cubic metres of wood is procured through import. About 0.5 million cubic metres of wood is engineered wood. But the gap is still there. To meet this, many farmers are coming forward and tying up with industries directly, Mohanty said.

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