Bamboo plantation awaits Centre's nod for land transfer

Bamboo plantation awaits Centre's nod for land transfer

'State has identified 150 acres of land for project in Hunsur taluk'

 Former secretary of Forest and Environment and Chairman of Devaraj Urs Bamboo Plantation Committee A C Lakshman has said that the proposed bamboo plantation may take a while as the Centre is yet to transfer the land to the state government.

Speaking to media persons at Aranya Bhavan here on Thursday, he said, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has written to the Centre in this connection and is hopeful of getting the land soon.

The state government has identified 150 acres of land, which had been alloted for the proposed Central Tobacco Research Institute which never materialised, eight km from Hunsur town, for the plantation, to mark the centenary birth anniversary of the late chief minister D Devaraj Urs, a native of Hunsur taluk. Apart from the research and plantation of bamboo, the committee will look into development of cottage industries, encourage tribals to take up apiary and cultivation of herbs, take up research on climate change, forest plantations and providing alternative forest corps to farmers to reduce the pressure on forests among other things.

Lakshman said, the governments, both state and Central, are mandated to reduce the cultivation of tobacco as per the international agreements, so there is a need to provide an alternative source of income to farmers.

“Adoption of forest crops by farmers will serve two purposes, one is reduction in dependency on tobacco in Hunsur and Periyapatna taluks and reduced dependence of
the industries on forest produce like timber. I have experimented with ten species of trees, including bamboo, over the past 20 years, since my retirement, and have come to a conclusion that ‘hebbevu’ (melia dubia) is the fastest growing tree, which can be harvested from three to six years. So, steps are afoot to bring more and more farmers into the loop,” he said.

“Sawmill owners have come forward to buy the trees directly from the farmers, fell them and transport them at their own cost by paying a consolidated amount to farmers.

The demand is high in plywood industries and there is a good opportunity for farmers. Hebbevu has the qualities of teakwood, but is lightwei-ght, so it can be used for making artefacts and decora-tive items. Channapatna toy-makers are already using the wood as an alternative for ‘halemara’ (wrightia tinctoria),” he said.

Basavaraju, a farmer who was present during the press meet, said, he has planted
100 hebbevu trees on three acres of land and he is expecting Rs 15,000 income in
six years, while his income from growing tobacco on the same extent of land over six years will be only Rs 10 lakh. Lakshman said, growing hebbevu is also helpful in recharging water table and will reduce the rate of incidence of drought.

Tech to avert sandalwood trees theft

Chairman of Devaraja Urs Bamboo Plantation Committee A C Lakshman said, he would appeal to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to provide an incentive for those who develop a technology to avert the theft of sandalwood trees grown on farmlands in villages.

During a press meet here on Thursday, he assured the farmers, in response to their petition, that the government should support them with some technology like a sim card or a micro-chip for sandalwood trees, for at least those grown by farmers as a cooperative initiative, to check theft, so that the farmers derive the maximum benefit from the trees they nurture.

Stating that sandalwood had been the property of the government, wherever it was grown, till recently, since it was declared ‘Doreswathu’ (meaning king’s property) in the 1760s, Lakshman said, the government’s intention is also to make sandalwood growers rich.

“But, farmers are left with only roots of the sandalwood trees as miscreants make good with the portion above the ground. So, farmers get only around 10% of what they should actually get. Hence, a representation would be made to the government in this regard,” he said.

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