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Ambuja Cements to use pine needles as fuel

 

The Solan Forest Division has worked out a novel way to deal with inflammable pine needles by making an arrangement with the Ambuja Cements Foundation (ACF) to use them as fuel.

The initiative will help reduce green house emission and also loss to flora and fauna which has been occurring to forest areas due to large-scale forest fires.

Prem Mahajan, DFO, Solan, Forest Division, said this division had 400 hectares of pine forests which lay in sensitive areas, including along the national highways, railways lines, state highways etc, and were highly susceptible to fires in this season.

The workable area had been divided into segments, namely Jabli, Maltu, Dharampur, Oachghat, Shakatighat, Manjholi and Samlech. The pine needles thus collected would be used as fuel by Ambuja Cements.

The ACF would also pay Rs 1.65 per kg to locals who would collect pine needles and the transportation cost would also be met by the foundation. Even locals who worked as mediators to facilitate the operations would be paid Rs 2,500 on a monthy basis, thus creating some income opportunities for them. With provision to engage local tractor owners for transportation, more work would be generated for the locals. A bailing machine has also been made available for the purpose for this division.

Every year thousands of hectares of forests are turned into ashes because of forest fires during the summer season. These pine needles fall on the ground and form a thick layer to obstruct the growth of green grass. The removal of pine needles from the forest will help save the flora and fauna, encourage new growth fulfilling the grazing needs of cattle, prevent forest fires, create income generation activity for the local community and also enable the use of pine needles as a biomass.

The Forest Department is playing a proactive role in helping the foundation to achieve its motive. It has also identified fire sensitive areas, besides sensitising and mobilising local rural communities to involve them in preventing forest fires. Local transporters too have been involved in its transportation work.

 

The Tribune (28-05-2013)