Bamboo processing unit to come up in Gadchiroli
Nagpur: The Maharashtra government has given its approval for a first-of-its-kind bamboo processing unit to be set up in Naxal-hit Gadchiroli district at an estimated cost of Rs 19.40 crore.
The state Cabinet last week gave two major approvals that could pave way for liberating bamboo from the strict control of forest department. The government had earlier approved e-auctioning of bamboo from forests, treating all user industries on an equal footing.
With a financial assistance worth Rs 13.58 crore to be provided through government schemes, the state-of-the-art Tribal Cooperative Bamboo Processing Society will get expertise and machinery from Hong Kong-based Green Bamboo Technology, officials said.
Once the factory is set up, it will provide direct employment to around 400 tribals and indirect work to at least 2,000 persons, they said.
Gadchiroli tribal MLA Dr Namdeo Usendi has been instrumental in prompting the state government to give a nod for this pilot project.
The government has also assured that if this unit is successful, it would formulate a new policy jointly by the tribal development and social justice department to open up tribal cooperatives that will allow commercial exploitation of bamboo, which is a minor forest produce in the Naxal-sensitive districts of Vidarbha.
It has also been decided that 35 per cent of the project cost, which comes to Rs 6.78 crore, will be provided from tribal sub-plan funds, and another Rs 6.78 crore will be given as a long term soft loan. The remaining investment will be raised by the cooperative unit from share capital and loans. The cooperative had already inked a pact with the Hong-Kong firm two years back.
“This is a new beginning for tribals of Gadchiroli who have been for ages living in penury while facing the wrath of either the Naxalites or the police,” Usendi said.
Gadchiroli has 78 per cent of forests in the district and bamboo production is 2.80 metric tonnes per year, he said.
One of the most underdeveloped districts of the country, Gadchiroli is the first to get community rights for a village under the Forest Rights Act.
Its Lekha Mendha village has successfully demonstrated how the village community could benefit from rights to minor forest produce like bamboo by having selling rights.
“More importantly, the co-operative unit has been assured adequate supply by the forest department. The local forest officer will be a member of the factory management board,” officials said.
Forest rights have been given to some 700 villages where bamboo can be sold by gram sabhas. If the surplus bamboo is utilized, it can turn into a Rs 20,000 crore industry in Vidarbha, they said.
“Further liberalization could lead to bamboo cultivation in private farms giving a yield of Rs 80,000 per month, ending agrarian crisis,” bamboo entrepreneur Pratap Goswami said.
Hailing the e-auction decision, Goswami said, “It will help in getting a factory set up in Ramtek which failed to take off because of supply restrictions. Now, factories in non-tribal areas will also be treated at par with other units.”