'Man has reason to cherish much gratitude towards trees, plants, reeds and even the humble grass. These sustain the lives of man, animal and bird alike. Therefore, the Indian culture. . . has always looked upon the trees and plants of the earth as the manifestation of God's protecting and preserving power. Man in his turn, is to reciprocate this reciprocate this vital function by being the protector of trees and plants. This is to be his relationship with all life around him.'

-Swami Chidananda

Till around the middle of the nineteenth century our forests were managed by the village communities. They were mixed forests providing fruits, fuel, fodder, roots, vegetable, fiber, fertilizer and medicinal plants. Agricultural population depended on forests [for fodder for their animals, fertilizers for their fields, fuel for their homes, bamboo to build houses, wood to make ploughs and other tools, and} for a variety of fruits, nuts and seeds which provided for the source of their life. The tribal and forest people mainly depended on forests for the source [of their livelihood. Forests provided them with fruits and nuts, with" dry vegetables, with various kinds of oil seeds, with herbs and with materials to make ropes, mats, shoes, bangles, clothes, blankets, varnishes and paints. They made a variety of products out of these for their own consumption as well as for export to villages and towns. But in turn they, through their cultural practices a'nd religious beliefs, nurtured the forests and opposed its denudation. Similarly, the hill people made use of the forests and in turn helped maintain them. The forests provided them with a rich and diverse lifestyle, very different from that (of the modern world. Lt. Col. Pitcher, who had been appointee! to enquire into the condition of lower classes reported in 1838:

'The peasants of Garhwal and Kumaon are better off than the peasants of any part of the would who neither live in such well-built houses, nor are so well-dressed as the peasants of Kumaon are Coarse grains, which were the staple food of the common people, were sold at the rate of 40 seers a rupee. Wild fruits and vegetables were available in abundance for six months in the neighboring forests, but: the people of this area do not care to collect these.'

The large forests in our country helped maintain its ecological balance. Thus, till around the middle of the nineteenth century harmony existed between the forest dwellers and the agricultural population; they while using the forests, helped maintain them. The ecological role of forests was well recognized and conservation was built in their knowledge and practices.

Early in the nineteenth century, the situation started changing. The British colonisers started placing new demands on the forests—the forests were to provide raw materials for industry, for railway sleepers, for structures in mines and for cities and cantonments. Commercial forestry was born. In less than half a century, the destruction and denudation of forests was noticed. The agricultural community and the forest community, hitherto' protectors of forests, were dubbed as backward, unscientific and destroyers of forests. The British Government was now to provide protection to these forests through -their forest policy, forest departments and their 'science of forestry'. Restrictions began to be imposed on the use of forests by the agricultural and the forest communities. These two communities were now also portrayed as adversaries of each other. These and other changes which were brought about affected the norms prevalent in these communities, and also the nature of control, use and protection of forests.

When the British rulers took forests under state control, there was resistance everywhere. The monuments erected in the memory of Birsa Munda, the leader of revolt in Ranchi (Bihar), and other martyrs on the banks of Tilari (U.P.) evoke memories of these revolts even to-day. In Uttarkhand', this century began with a mass revolt against the commercial forest policy, which became a part of the Swarajya Movement in 1920-21.

Everywhere, these movements met extensive repression. More and more forests were taken over by the government and extensive fellings contributed to increasing the revenue of the Forest Department . The thrust of the British forest policy was to increase the industrial use of forests, the exports and the forest revenue by taking greater and greater control of the forests from agricultural and tribal communities, depriving them of their resource base and denying them any role in the maintenance of forests.

By the time of independence, the forest cover of our country was appreciably denuded. It stood at 23 per cent which according to even the modern science of forestry, is quite inadequate. The national forest policy of 1952 declared that the forest cover would be increased to at least 33 percent. Three and a half decades later it has been reduced to a mind-boggling 8-12 per cent2- . This article examines the state of Indian forests to-day, its impact on various sections of the society, the causes of the present state of affairs and the vision of our policy makers. We will show that the denudation of our forests is not an accident but is consistent with this vision; and if the same vision persists, we are in for a disaster.

(a)Extent of deforestation and its defects :

According to the statistics obtained from the Central Forestry Commission, forests in India occupied an area of about 74.8 million hectares [approximately 23%]

'Trees for me is not just nature's gift but the key to man's survival. They not only self-maintain the great ecological balance, but also give man the five basic F's—Food, Fodder, Fuel, Fertilizer and Fibre. It is incredible that man should destroy nature. Every standing green tree in the Himalayas is a sentry against the fury of the floods and landslides and to cut one is like declaring a war against the [people and their lands'
-Sunderlal Bahuguna

To-day, as the ill effects of forest destruction become more and more apparent, wisdom of traditional beliefs on the heed to protect forests is being increasingly realized by modern science. Thus, according to NCA (p. 299-303), the beneficial effects of a forest ecosystem on human environment consist in moderating the climate, maintaining the soil mantle, regulating the water supplies, purifying' the air and helping in noise abatement. It is believed that at least 33% of land in the plains and 60% lin hilly areas must be under forest for ecological reasons.

The roots of the trees act like a sponge absorbing rain water and releasing the excess in a controlled manner, ensuring a measured flow to the river. The roots also bind the soil and the humus. The dense canopy of the foliage breaks the force of the fiercest rainstorms and allows the water to fall as gentle drops to the ground,

Denuded hills cause floods, because lack of vegetation means an excessive run-off of water to the plains below. In summer, on the other hand, there is an acute shortage of water because the underground storage system has not been adequately charged and this often leads to drought. And with nothing to hold it in place, the precious top-soil which takes 600 years to form is washed down rendering entire' hillsides barren and causing river-beds to silt up. Landslides become a. regular feature.

Trees also shelter and feed many animals and birds. They help to purify the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it into oxygen. It is estimated that one tree produces las much oxygen as is needed by 200 people in the same period. Trees also reduce noise pollution in cities and check the heat build-up in the atmosphere by preventing heat from radiating into it from bare surfaces.

The greenery is also known to provide protection for the eyes. A study conducted in Bombay revealed that on hot afternoon asphalt reflects 45 per cent of the incident light while foliage! reflects only 9 per cent of our land area] in 1970-71. However, according to the agricultural statistics the area under the forests was only 66 million hectares' [NCA p. 30] Leaving this discrepancy in the official figures aside, let us examine the extent of deforestation.

The Union Government's Forest Department estimates that within three decades, 4.5 million ha of forests have vanished, leaving behind barren land2. However, these figures are a gross underestimate. The all-India estimates, via satellite photographs, put forest cover now at 8 to 12 per cent as against the official 23 per cent.

Currently, only five out of India's 22 states (Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Tripura, M. P. and Assam) come anywhere near the desirable one-third' land area under forest cover. Further more, most states exist in the bliss of ignorance. Orissa, for instance stoutly insists that 43.6. . of its land area is forested while satellite pictures taken six years ago clearly show that the actual figure is an ecologically in insufficient Other states are no less culpable.

Himachal Pradesh's forest area is mere 19% compared to the official claim of 39% with the giant deodar in the famed Kulu Valley having become virtually extinct. An estimated Rs. 50 crores worth of trees each year are the victims of illegal felling by contractors who smuggle the precious timber to the ravenous wood industries of tne plains. In Uttar Pradesh, satellite pictures show the towering Himalayas stripped bare of their thick' coniferous cover to a height of almost 2,800 metres the limit of year round human habitation. Madhya Pradesh, which boasts of the largest forest belt in the country (16.6 million ha), has lost more than two million ha of teak, sal and bamboo forests, the largest amount of forest cover lost by any single state.

In Assam, another forest-rich state, only 23.03% of reserve forests have survived the combined onslaught of 380 forest-based industries including 40 plywood factories and 10 paper mills. Official statistics, however, still blissfully maintain that 39.2% of the area is under forest cover. In Karnataka, the mangrove forests along the west coast have all but disappeared, the scrub forests of the Deccan plateau denuded and the evergreen forests reduced to a paltry 5 per cent from the original 20 per cent. Maharashtra projects a sorrier picture with vast areas, particularly in Ratnagiri district, having been laid bare of forest cover. West Bengal has lost 3.2 lakh ha of its forests in the past 30 years.

The brutal rape of India's forests has raised the curtain on a man-made ecological catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude which, in its ultimate effect, could threaten life climatically more than the combined fury of all natural disasters. The destruction of forests is relentlessy transforming all mountains and hills into uncontrollable barren landslide zones. It threatens to convert the country's fertile river basins into unproductive swamps. It is pulling the deadening desert zones over green agricultural lands.

In the early 1970's it was estimated f that every year 6,000 million tons of precious top-soil, equivalent in nutrients to twice the annual production of fertilizers, was lost through erosion by wind and rain. The loss has been variously estimated at Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 7,000 crores. 'The rate of erosion in the catchment area of Yamuna is 300 acres per feet per 100 square miles; for the Ganga 400 acres per feet per 100 square miles. The bed of Ganga is raising by 7 to 8 cm. every year, while the Brahmaputra has risen by 5£ metres in the last half century. The beds of some streams in India are up to the level of the bridge under which they once flowed5'. 'Soil erosion and high siltation in river beds have jeopardized no less than 39 major river valley projects which generate more than half the country's power requirements and irrigate one quarter of its total food crops'2. More than Rs. 5,000 crores have been spent on large dams during the last 25 years. At least half of this must be regarded as lost [See Table-1].

The massive deforestation and the resulting siltation has meant devastating floods and extreme misery for our people. According to the Irrigation Commission (1972), surface flow of Indian rivers increased 12-fold from 1901 to 1971. 'National Commission of Flood estimates that the area vulnerable to floods has doubled from 20 million hectares to 40 million hectares. Table-2 presents the extent of damage caused by floods in the last 30 years.

Table — 1: Annual rates of siltation in selected reservoirs (in acre feet)


Assumed Rate

Observed Rate

























Table —2: Damage caused by floods (1953 — 81)

Average over the period

Crop area affected (lakh hectares)

Total damage (million rupees)

at current prices

at 1952-53 prices





















1977-81 (as of 19th Aug.)




It is now abundantly documented that we are destroying the genetic diversity of living organisms at a very fast pace. Wild plants continue to be a major source of drugs 10 this date, and modern science is continually discovering new drugs from species which were not being used before. At the same time, we are rapidly losing the traditional knowledge of the use of medicinal plants. Forest departments pay no attention to the way their operations are destroying the diversity of plants, since their interest is focused on a few commercial timber species. Infact we have ancient traditions of preserving plant diversity in the form of sacred groves from which no plants are destroyed out of fear of divine wrath. In many areas of the country ranging from the Aravalli hills of Rajasthan to the Western Ghats and the Khasi hills, such sacred groves are the last refuges of many species of the once rich plant life of these areas. It is most unfortunate that the forest department of Karnataka has started exploiting the sacred groves of Coorg after taking them over from private temple trusts.

Floods present only one side of the picture. The lowering of water storage due to deforestation has made countless streams dry. The summer flow of the rivers has reduced tremendously creating drought-like situations in most parts of the country. At the same time loss of tree cover and the consequent wind erosion is causing the march of the desert. In the hilly regions, land-slides have become a very common occurrence as a result of deforestation. For example, in Western Himalayas practically all forests below 2,000 metres have been deforested [SIE, p. 35].

All this implies an extremely grave situation for people in villages, hilly areas, and in forests. Their lands are being rapidly eroded and they seem to be caught in endless cycles of flood and drought. Their means of livelihood is getting destroyed resulting in the entire social fabric of our country being torn apart. People are forced to migrate to cities for bare survival; the cities seem fo be the only places where some cushion, however miserable, is provided.

Why is this happening ? Who is responsible ? Let us take a closer look.

(b) Impact on tribals and rural populations:

'Deforestation has badly damaged the ecological base of the total life support system not only of the tribals but also of other sectors, of the rural population who continue to depend on forests of their domestic energy needs, organic fertilizers as an input for food production, poles and posts .for housing, fodder for animals, food and medicine.'

Even thirty years earlier, the tribal population of our country used to make hundreds of products from forest resources for self consumption. This they have done for hundreds of years, without destroying the forests. The denudation of the forests and restrictions on their rights has meant a total destruction of their livlihood. To-day, their self-sufficiency is destroyed. They have become unemployed.

They have difficulty in obtaining even food. They are at times employed at miserable rates in 'mines. They have to do hard work for long hours. Probably this hard work' would not I be humanly possible but for the rice liquor that they brew and consume. Very often the women are sexually exploited by contractors and the foremen. The tribal population can no longer protect the forests. [The control is no longer theirs. They are very often forced to work for the forest contractor in destroying the forests. 'The trader who pays Rs. 500 to the adivasi, Rs. 5,000 to' the truck owner and Rs. 5,000 - 7,000 by way of bribes makes upto Rs. 20,000 depending on the size of the truck'6 for a truckload of wood. 'Currently, tribals in Madhya Pradesh are being hired by contractors to collect sal seeds. They are paid Rs. 50 a quintal while the contractors sell it for Rs. 250 a quintal. They pay the Government a royalty of Rs. 30 a quintal and pocket the rest'.5 Such instances abound.

The colonial Government as well as that of independent India, through a series of legislations, in the last hundred years, have deprived the tribal people of most rights over the forests. They have been made aliens in their own land. The forest policy has been to reserve most of the forest and collection of any type of forest produce by the tribals is illegal. Many times even their presence in the forest is considered trespassing and hence a serious offence.

Jayaram Bhonar of Kashtakari Sangathana explains how forest guards harass and exploit local people. They not only impose fines'for minor offences but also extort bribes and country liquor pick up their poultry and even their women in exchange for 'mercy'. Soys who go to jungles to catch birds are mercilessly beaten up: Women in their huts are threatened and molested in absence-of their menfolk. Bhonar speaks of the ocassion when some poor people from Siroshi village in Dhanau taluka went to the forests to fetch teak leaves. They were caught and fined at the rate of 5 paise per leaf—an enormous sum for them. And yet wnen in the same taluka the men of Sishne village kept watch over the forest for three nights running, they caught a notorious timber merchant trying to escape with truck loads of.teak, approximately 3000 cubic meters of wood that could fetch Rs. 30,000 at the very least. The case was registered with the Forest Department office in Dahanu. But apparently it was not filed in a court of law. After a year, when the villagers went to find out the outcome of their enterprise, they were told that the case had become time-barred and nothing could be done about it any more.

In recent times, our newspapers and magazines periodically carry photographs tof tribals 'stealing' head-loads of wood from the forests or of train loaded with firewood being taken by tribals to sell in the neighbouring towns and cities. Thus an attempt' is made to create an impression that these tribals are destroying the forests. With the advent of modernisation their self-sustaining system of production has been-destroyed. The forest policy has further curbed their means of survival. They have to walk miles every day to collect one head-load of fuelwood so that they can get to eat by selling it. How can one blame these people ? This is like blaming the victims for they are definitely the worst sufferers of the deforestation.

Again their age-old agricultural practice, shifting cultivation, is blamed as a cause of deforestation. 1 For centuries when the tribals controlled their forests, this 'irrational' practice did not destroy them. Today, external intervention has first deprived them of this control and their source of livelihood; now this colonisation is being rationalised by describing their practices as irrational, superstitious and unscientific.

The situation with agricultural population is similar. As early as the mid-nineteenth century the bond between agriculture and forestry was broken. Voelcker had extensively demonstrated that the forest policy and the urban and imperial exploitation of forests was constraining the otherwise excellent Indian agricultural practices in the 1890's. Since fuel wood was now denied to the agriculturists, they were forced to burn organic matter thus resulting in loss of manure for agriculture. The pattern has continued in the last thirty years. The farmers have been virtually denied the use of forests for fuel wood or wood for their houses, ploughs, drill ploughs and other tools. Deforestation has meant tremendous hardship for rural women as they have to walk 10 to 15 kms to collect a head-load of fuel. Consequently animal dung invariably finds its place in the household stoves. According to Madhav Gadgil and Kailash Malhotra3, 'The sources of organic manure are on the decline everywhere. Every acre of horticultural land in North Kanara district of Karnataka used to receive leaf manure as fertilizer from nine acres of the so called betta forest land. With the depletion of tree cover in these betta forests, this quantity is now drastically reduced. The traditional manure in Garhwal areas of the Himalayas is a mixture of fresh leaved which form the bedding of animals, mixed with their dung and urine, when animals remain in the stills during the monsoon. With the loss of the tree cover and the conversion of broad-leaved, into coniferous forests, the availability of this source of organic manure has been on a sharp decline.

A large number of cottage industries in the villages depended on easy availability of forest produce. Now, most of these raw materials are taken away by the urban industrial sector. Both in terms of the amount that they can pay, as well as in terms of the influence that they can bring to bear on forest-officials, the urban industrial sector has a tremendous advantage. So much so that they often take contracts from the government to pick up forest produce at miserably low rates whereas the rural population has to pay a much higher price for the same. For example,

'Good thatch is difficult to obtain in many parts of the world and in Karnataka, villagers now have to buy bamboo at Rs. 1200 a ton in the free market whereas, the paper industry is still able to get it at Rs. 15 a ton from the government's reserved forests."

'The horn beam, a tree species used as fodder during the dry season is now being diverted as a raw material for the bobbin shuttle industry. The wood used to be earlier procured from the Assam forests. An industrialist has secure monopoly cutting-rights for hornbeam in Himachal Predesh for the next twenty years. [SIE. p. 38]

'An agreement in 1961 entitled a paper mill to wood from the forests in the hill areas at a ludicrous rate of 25 paise per quintal. Another mill was given the contract for all the Ash trees in the area, denying the local villagers even a fraction of the wood which they needed badly to make their plough shares,'

'Thousands of poor villagers, depend on bamboo for food, house construction, manufacture of agricultural implements such as seed drills, and for making mats and baskets, an important source of livelihood. In Tamil Nadu alone, there were an estimated 23,000 people engaged in basket weaving using bamboo as a means of survival. Probably a lakh of people would be dependent on these breadwinners. Just about 10 years ago, the basket weavers of Kampanaickanpalayam, a village near the town.

To-day, with the Seshasaye Paper Mill as a major competitor for the same resource, bamboo supply has become a major problem for the poor. Now some villagers specialize in collecting bamboo illegally and selling it to the weavers. These people have to travel nearly 25 miles to collect enough bamboo and it takes] about three days. Each head load now costs anything above Rs. 30; consequently, even with prices of bamboo goods having risen, the weavers earn less than before. Moreover the bamboo supply is no longer assured; whenever forest officials catch the bamboo collectors, the supply is cut off for weeks. [SIE, 49].

Yet another devastating impact of deforestation has been on our animal husbandry practices.

The pastorals have been an important component of Indian seciety providing milk, wool, hides, meat and manure for the fields. Their grazing lands have however rapidly gone under cultivation, or under plantation of trees which no longer provide fodder for animals. Thus many of the traditional grazing forests of the buffalo keeping Gujars of the Himalayas have been converted to Eucalyptus and the Gujars have been forced to excessive lopping of the remaining fodder trees and invasion of alpine meadows. These alpine meadows were earlier used largely by Bhotia Shepherds who are now forced to higher altitudes. The spread of weeds, such as Parthenium, Lantana and Eupatorium rendering large tracts of lands totally unproductive is in part owing to the pressure of excessive animal grazing everywhere.

'The pressure of cultivation on marginal lands which were earlier under pastures, the loss of tree, cover and the consequent soil erosion and degradation of grazing lands, the conversion of natural forests with many fodder trees into commercial plantations, and the introduction of new dwarf crop varieties have all drastically reduced the fodder base for our livestock. At the same time the remaining grazing lands fa re suffering from heavy over-grazing and are rapidly deteriorating. In consequence, the animal numbers are dwindling over much of our country and their productivity is on the decline. The traditional pastoralists are being forced to abandon animal husbandry and are adding to the pressure of cultivation on marginal lands. As our dairy development schemes totally neglect the building up of fodder base and concentrate on diverting the milk to urban areas, they merely contribute to further destruction of our base of natural resources, Since milk is essentially the only source of animal protein for the vast majority of our population, and since animal manure plays a critical role as a fertiliser for our agriculture we must reverse these trends. '

(c) Industrial use

While the destruction of forest has been increasing at a menacing pace, so has the Forest Department's revenue from the forests. Table - 3 lists this revenue over the period ]of late thirties to the begining of eighties. Table - 4 presents the various sources of this revenue. The revenue which was Rs. 2 to 3 crores per year before the World War II increased to around Rs. 20 crores right after independence and has shot upto Rs. 472 crores in 1980-81. The gross income from forestry has risen more substantially. If this much wealth is taken out of our forests yearly by the government above, what will be the fate of our forests ! Add to it, the illegal extraction of forest wealth and one can start getting a picture of what are the' causes of destruction of our forests.

And how much is the Government charging the timber merchants and paper companies for this wealth ? We had earlier mentioned contracts awarded to paper mills to remove wood from the forests in the hill area at a ludicrous rate of 25 paise per quintal. We had also mentioned that the paper industry in Karnataka is able to get bamboo at the price of Rs. 15 a ton whereas the villagers pay Rs. 1,200 for the same.

In Himachal Pradesh, a private paper mill was given a 20 year contract in 1964 which entitled it to wood at the rate of 36 paise per tonne, though the market price was Rs. 270 per tonne those days.

'Furniture made from this rare species (sissu) adorn many a drawing room. . . The tribals are paid on piece rate basis, and they hardly earn Rs 25 to Rs. 30 for a piece more than one cubic metre, while the market price for the same is Rs. 150 and above.'

'The Himachal Pradesh Government earns about three quarters of its forest revenue from royalties on the commercial felling of about 2,00,000 trees. This amounts to about Rs. 600 per tree. Against this the timber contractor is able to sell a medium-sized deodar tree in Amritsar for Rs. 2000 - 2500 [SIE, p. 38].

1.5 lakh cubic metres of timber is used to make packing cases for apple export in H.P. at a cost of Rs. 6 - 7 per case This is far below the market rate for wood. And, the legal felling for which revenue is collected amounts to but a small part of the total felling. In fact,

'Forest Departments have laid the basic foundations of deforestation by hiring contractors indiscriminately to exploit forest resources. Once the foothold was secured, the contractors indulged in an orgy of forest destruction with the forest department actively conniving in the illegal felling, which has now grown to alarming proportions. Even a large percentage of reserved forests which are labeled as

Table - 3: Revenue from forests (in crores of Rupees)

Average for the period

Gross Income from Recovery

Revenue receipts

1936-37 to 38-39


1939-40 to 41-42


1942-43 to 44-45


1945-46 to 47-48


1948-49 to 50-51


1951-52 to 53-54


1954-55 to 56-57


1957-58 to 59-60


1960-61 to 62-63



1963-64 to 65-66



1966-67 to 68-69



1969-70 to 71-72



1972-73 to 73-74








Table - 4: Commodity-wise distribution of forest revenue (in crores of Rupees)






I.  Major Forest Produce :

(i). Timber round and sawnwood





(ii)   Fuelwood (including charcoal)





Total Major





II   Minor Forest Produce :

(i) Bamboo





(ii) Grazing and fodder





(iii)   Others





Total Minor










Table - 5: Recorded Production of Wood (million m3)









































































‘virgin - forests" by the department, have been raped systematically by unscrupulous contractors with a share of the profits going to bribery—prone forest officials. In Uttar Pradesh, at least a quarter of its rich forest area has been lost hby illegal felling and the State Forest Minister, Nirbhay Narain Singh, admits that even today illegal felling is rampant in Nainital district.'

Large areas of existing forests are threatened because of indiscriminate resin extraction from chir pine trees'. Half inch deep cuts are stipulated ; instead tappers cut as deep as four inches. The width of the cuts should be only four inches. Instead it is common to find trees with cuts between 8 to 10 inches wide. Leave alone older trees which are in this way literally bled to death, even young trees less than a foot in diameter have been tapped. Against a maximum of three blazes that a tree can stand, tappers are known to make as many as 10 blazes.

In two storms that hit the forests of Sirmur districts this year, the forest department estimated that over 40,000 trees were destroyed. The life span of a pine tree is around 100 years. Most of the trees that fell had completed less than half their expected life span' [SIE, p. 38].

'A recent World Wildlife Fund survey shows that about half a million trees, being tapped for resin, are" destroyed every year 5 and the forest guards look the other way.

'Taking into account the claim of the forest department that it has been planting 20 million trees a year with a survival rate of 25 per cent at the least, a recent report in the Times of India concluded that either these afforestation figures are an eyewash, or up to 30 to 40 trees are felled illegally for every tree cut down legally', [SIE, p. 3o]

The extent to which the Forest Departments connive with the contractors is evident from an incident in Ranikhet.

A vanrakshak caught a Divisional Forest Official (DFO) from another region trying to get away with a truck load of timber. On reporting the matter to his own DFO and the Forest Conservator of the region, the van-rakshak himself was sacked. He was reinstated only after the local people launched a movement against this.'

Industrial use of forest produce has been expanding very rapidly. Both legal and illegal extraction is geared towards it. The forest policy as well as the corruption in the' forest department is consistent with this aim. Table - 5 gives the recorded production of industrial and fuel wood in the last 25 years. Industrial wood production has tripled while fuel wood production has nearly doubled. The actual use of industrial and fuel wood is much larger. It is estimated that in 1970-71, the fuel wood consumption was 175 million m3. Of this, however, less than 10% (13 million m3) is estimated to have been taken out of the forest. Most of it comes from village tree lands. On the other hand,

It is estimated that in 1970, while recorded production of industrial wood was hardly 9 million m3 (r) the requirement was of the order of 16 million m3 (r). The gap was made up by the exploitation of trees from farm lands and, to a great extent, also pilferage from the forests,' [NCA P. 3].

Also, 'it is safe to assume at least 40% to 50% of wood felled is left behind as residual wood.'11 So the total destruction of forests due to industry is much larger than the figures show.

Timber is not the only thing that extracted from forests for industrial use. Tables 6 & 7 present the extent of major and minor forest produce and their various industrial applications. The share of minor forest produce (MFP) is rising rapidly. The MFP which used to provide self employment to the tribals and rural-folk in various handicraft industries as well as richness and diversity to their consumption, is taken out for modern applications. Table - 8 presents the extent of use of the forest produce by various industries.

Natural forests are mixed forests. Large varieties of trees grow simultaneously, V supporting and protecting each other in a large number of ways, all of which human beings have not yet understood. However, for industrial exploitation, the mixed forest is a curse. The (industrially) unwanted species compete with the valuable species for nutrition, space etc. Furthermore, mass removal becomes a serious problem (particularly using modern machinery). Industry much prefers mono-culture plantations of species that it desires. 'Man-made Forestry' and 'Production Forestry' are the terms used for this industrially valuable monoculture plantations. Plantations of teak, eucalyptus and other modern varieties are quickly replacing the mixed forests and traditional trees like sal, tamarind, and kharanj. Monoculture plantations are, destructive for forests.

'Forest dwellers are emphatic that they have no use for monocultures as it is the mixed forests that nurtures them as well as the birds and animals. Moreover, in the absence of the birds are bird droppings, there is no undergrowth in the cultivated forests and the top-soil is washed to away by rain and swept away by wind in the dry season.'

According to Gadgil and Malhotra

The forestry sector is also attempting to enhance the harvest from forest lands. This attempt relies heavily on raising large scale plantations of fast growing species, in particular those belonging to the genus Eucalyptus. The fast growing species differ from the slow growing trees which dominate our natural forests, in more rapidly withdrawing water and nutrient from the soil and returning to it less inorganic matter in the form of leaf litter. When trees of species such as Eucalyptus are harvested, very little matter is left behind in the form of lops and tops of small branches, etc. to be returned

Table - 6 : Industrial Use of Majore Forest Produce


Approximate Annual Production Figures

Pulp and pulp products


1.Pulp (Air dry)


  (a) paper grade wood pulp in tons

21,600 (1976); 24.700 (1977).

  (b) Rayon grade dissolving pulp in tons used in tyre manufacture)

87,000 (1973-74); 1,27,000 (1976)

2. Newsprint in thousand tons

15 (1960-61) ; 25 (1965-66) ; 35 (1972-73)

57 (1976)

3.   Paper arid paper-board in thousand tons

98 (1948); 522.3 (1964); 609.8 (1 966); 803 (1972)

880 (1976); 937 (1977); 1112 (1979).

II Timber Products


A. Panel Products


  1. Veneer sheets


  2. Plywood including veneer plywood (in thousand tons)

72.8 (1970); 92.8 (1974); 116.8 (1979)

  3. Particle board in tons

21,000 (1977).

  4. Fibre board in tons


B.   Other timber products


  1.   Densified wood in tons

663 (1976)

  2.   Safety matches in million boxes

4669 (1950), 6630 (1960); 6803 (1970)

III. Cork Products .


  1. Cork sheet in million sq. m.

1,160 (1977).

  2. Cork disc in million numbers

671  (1977)

  3. Cork stoppers in million numbers

73 (1976)

IV. Furniture

Estimated annual requirement 0.15 million m3

V.   Textile Industry

Estimated annual requirement 0.6 million m3

VI.   Packaging Industry

Estimated annual requirement 0.11 million m3

Other uses of major forest produce are in the Manufacture of toys, pencils, sports goods, battery separators, tool handles, slate.frames, shoes lasts, police batons, piles, fence posts, transmission poles, mine-props, paving blocks, ship and boat building, railway caraiges, railway sleepers, construction, bridges, superstructure, cases, tea-chests, crates, etc.

Table - 7 : Industrial Use of Majore Forest Produce


Annual quantity

Principal uses

1.  (a)   Semul floss


Stuffing matresses, pillows, life-belts, upholstry, life-jackets, etc.

      Kapok floss in tons


     (b)   Agave fibres in tons



2. (a)   Sabai grass in tons



  (b)   Bamboo in million tons (over 1,00,270 sq. km. of forest area)


Construction [32%], packaging [7%],   paoer-pulp   [17%],   rural use [30 -] and other uses [14-%]

3. Essential oils



   (a) Lemon giass, rusa, eucalyptus oil, Khus oil etc., in tons

1475 [1972-73]

Soaps, detergents, fine-chemicals perfumes, cosmetics, pharmaceu­ticals etc.

   (b) Sandalwood oil in tons


4. Tans and dyes



 (a) Myrabolan nuts (harra,  bahera, amla) in tons.

1,07,500 [1967]

Leather industry

    (b) Wattle bark, babul, cutch, katha and  leaves of  several species in tons


Total requirement : 2,50,000 tons

5. Oil seeds in tons 

(mahua, sal, karanj, neem. kusum, dhupa, nahor, undi, pisa khakan, kokam)

2 13,515 [1970-71]

Oil used in soap; deoiled meal used as cattle and poultry-feed.

6. Gums and resins



    (a)   karya, ghatti, babul gums in tons

17,000 [1972]

Food, paper, textile industries pharmacy, paints and varnishes, cosmetics, calico printing, linoleum water colour, inks, construction.

   (b)   Resin in tons  

30,268 [1961-62],

40,028 [1965-86],

41 716 [1969-70],

59'590 [1973-74]

Also used to make synthetic, camphor, boot-polish, plastic, incense, industrial perfumes, agar-bathis, bangles, etc.

7. Drugs species and  insecticides '    (flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots of trees, shrubs creepers, etc )


Out of 2000 drugs recorded in Materia-Medica, 1800 are of vegetable origin.

8, Tendu leaves in thousand tons (for M.P. only)

80.9 (1971), 89.8 [19721]

96.1 (1973), 96.8 [1974]


9. Lac and its products in tons (rangeeni, kusum, agahanee)

29,669 [1966-70 average]

Plastic, electrical adhesive, leather and wood furnishing, printing ink etc.

Table—8 : Transaction from forestry and logging to other major industries I 1973 – 1974


Rupees (in crores)

1. Sugar industry


2. Food industry


3. Cotton textiles


4. Textile products


5. Furniture  


6. Paper and paper board


7. Leather and products


8. Chemical and chemical products (including pesticides)


9. Non-metallic materials (other than cement)


10. Metal products


11. Industrial Machinery  


12. Electrical Machinery & equipment


13. Railway transport equipment


14. Other transport equipment


15. Miscellaneous manufacture


16. Construction


17. Other    



538 00

These monoculture plantations are also dangerous because they reduce the diversity of the ecosystem and simplify food chains, resulting in elimination of natural enemies of diseases and predators. This creates ideal conditions for multiplication of disease, insects, rodents, etc. Notwithstanding this,

'Large areas of Kerala are also being converted every years into plantations. By 1976, the tota area under plantation was 13T0" square k.m. or about T4 percent of the total forest area. Three-fourths of this'area was under teak and eucalyptus, an exotic species, even though changing .ecology has led to the emergence of many pests and diseases. Eucalyptus plantations raised around Vazhacha have been completely wiped out because of a fungal disease' [SIE, p. 50].

This carelessness is because

Eucalyptus is in great demand from the pulp and rayon industry. Mills in Karnataka are prepared to make advance payments every year to growers until the tree is ready for harvesting in 6 to, 8 years. The prices offered are high; one acre of eucalyptus, when ready for felling, can fetch upto Rs. 40,000. As a result, many farmers, particularly in Karnataka, have started growing eucalyptus instead of food crops,' [SIE, p. 52].

Recently, the government has been promoting what is called, 'Social Forestry'. Aided by many foreign agencies, like the World Bank, IMF, Swedish International Development Authority, Candian International Development Authority and USAID, as well as by industries which consume forest resources as raw materials, the scheme is aimed at intensely foresting the roadsides, canal margins, hillsides, porambake (community lands), waste lands and even ponds. 12 As a spin-off, it will generate employment, as it is supposed to involve the local population in the scheme.

'The Central Governments has increased allocation for plantation from Rs. 1.28 crores in the First Five Year Plan (1951-56) with a social forestry component of Rs. 16.42 lakhs, to Rs. 452.20 crores during the Sixth Plan (1980-85), with a social forestry component of Rs. 351.88 crores. The program aims to cover a total of 2.15 million hectares, of which 1.52 will be under social forests and 0.62 under production forests. Thus, not only has the total afforestation effort increased but the social forestry component has increased in particular.' [SIE, p. 51].

The aims appear noble. But what has been happening in the name of social forestry is planting those species of trees which are raw materials for industries. Furthermore, what the scheme seems to be promoting is planting the- trees on those lands which have been hitherto used for food crops. A recent study13 on v' impact of social forestry in Kolar region in Karnataka reveals that the scheme has ; been replacing the production of ragi (poor persons' food) with eucalyptus. As more and more rain-fed land producing ragi is being switched into eucalypts plantations, the production of highly nutritious ragi in the state has crashed from 1,75,195 tons to 13,340 tons. In the coming five years nearly 12% of such agricultural land is expected to go under eucalptus.

Similarly, in Bastar region (M.P.), the World Bank is promoting planting of pine and eucalyptus after felling sale forests. At other places, teak is being promoted. In Gujarat too, a large number of farmers are converting their agricultural land into industrial plantation. The story of coffee, tea, cashew and indigo plantation, forced by the Britishers on us in the last two centuries is being repeated with new exotic varieties with much fan-fare in the name of foresting and meeting the needs of the villagers. NCA does not even attempt to conceal these motives. It states that,

'To meet the high domestic demand and export target as well, another 10 - 12 million m3 (r) of industrial wood would be necessary. This quantity must be met from social forestry' (NCA, p. 65). It also points out that,

'The Bastar Project alone would add about 0,14 m3 (r) ha yr to the wood removal in the state [M. P,] and almost the whole of it may be used as industrial wood, as pulpwood and fuel-wood are Virfiterchangable.' [NCA. p. 67,]

The motive behind the social forestry is thus understandable. More on it later. Table-9 lists the expenditure on fuelwood plantations, industrial plantations and environmental plantations in the last 30 years. Once again, we see, fuelwood and environmental plantations have low priority compared to industrial plantations.

Table-9: Area of established Plantations (thousand hectares)

















i 40



















Another result of the policy of commercial exploitation is the 'disappearance of board-leaved trees and flourishing of coniferous species , which have made the soil dry and infertile.'1 The intensity of commercial exploitation has implied mechanization and modernisation of the wood removal process.

'Due to importance accorded to the commercial exploitation of forests, forest lessees can operate within virgin forests without proper supervision, says Buhuguna, Saw mills have been permited to function even within remote forests. Bahuguna saw ropeways built to transport logs from remote virgin forests to the road. Cut logs are rolled down hillsides causing land erosion and triggering of landslides,' [SIE.'p. 37] Again, after the extension of motor roads, even the remnants of felled trees (used earlier by local people as firewood) are not spared, but become the prey of machines.

Another aspect of commercial exploitation of forests is exports. Tabte-10 presents the value of exports of major and minor forest produce. The exports, both of the major and the minor forest produce, have been rising very rapidly. It is indeed surprising that our government talks about protection and ecology of our forests on the one hand, but on the other hand, when it comes to the export of forest produce, it hesitates ' little in doing everything to let the forest industries destroy our resources to earn foreign exchange. Queries Bahuguna,

'Are we going to use our land for short-term exploitation of a few affluent countries or are we going to make our country self-sufficient in food and clothing?'Again, to earn foreign exchange as well as increase revenue, tourism on our hilly and forest areas is being promoted indiscriminately.

'The worst impact of this influx of tourists is felt in ecologically important areas like Valley of Flowers which has been considered by ecologists important enough to be declared biosphere reserves. With its rapidly "changing ecology, the number of flowers in the picturesque valley are going down every year. Before the latter half of this century, the valley was open only to the local shepherds. It remained protected because of a number of religious and cultural beliefs associated with it. Going

Table -10: Exports of forest produce



Rs. (crores)    % of total


Rs. (crores)    % of total

Total Rs. (crores)



































































into the valley wearing shoes, plucking flowers without prayer, plucking many flowers, making a noise in the valley, etc., were strictly forbidden' [SIE, p. 40].

All this indeed increases the government revenue and its foreign exchange earnings; this also provides the raw materials for modern industries and is the basis of modern lifestyle for some in the urban areas. But our rural and tribal population is deprived of even the simplest means of survival. The whole approach and the result is consistent with the vision of our planners the vision which looks at the modern urban industrial complex as the centre of production and symbol of development and national progress. National interest, national needs are all synonymous with the needs of modern industry, modern defense and modern communication. All other sectors and all other people are to be subservient to this interest. If forest produce is to be used by tribal and rural population, it is a waste, and against the interest of national economy. The only way these sections can participate in the national economy is by working to extract these resources for modern industry. And this is precisely what they are being reduced to their only means of survival is to undertake this extraction. If as a result, their resources are lost and they are condemned to under-employment, unemployment and impoverishment, well, so be it; they have to wait their turn till our national economy develops to such an extent that the benefits trickle down to them.

This vision is reflected in the successive forest policies and more so in the recently proposed (and subsequently withdrawn for reconsideration as a result of widespread active opposition) Forest Bill. All rights of the forest dwellers and the rural people over the use of forests is to be curtailed in the national interest. The bill looks at the forest dwellers and rural people and their unscientific traditions as the main culprits in the forests destruction. It places more power in the hands of forest officials with their 'scientific outlook.

This vision treats the inaccessible forests as waste and construction of modern roads (causing massive destruction to the forests) to extract this wealth as development.

'Trees are' felled and damaged and landslides caused by careless construction have eroded the and so permanently that trees cannot grow there any longer' [SIE, p. 37].

'In Chamoli district alone there 'are now 1100 km. of motorabfe roads. The massive network of roads has opened up the area for further exploitation by forest contractors. Timber felling has taken place even way up in the sensitive valleys close to the Tibet border. Private contractors have indulged in the same rapacious practices of illegal felling as in other states of India, regardless of the sensitive character of the region. In almost all cases, the roads themselves have become major causes of soil erosion. The blasting that has taken place around Joshimath town, for instance, which is situated on an earlier landslide zone, has already posed a major threat to it. Even though a government committee has prohibited blasting in the area, it still continues for making new roads for a major hydro-electric project. As many as 22 hydro-electric projects are being proposed on the rivers of Uttarkhand' [SIE, p. 40].

A Rs. 56 million World Bank project was started in 1972 for the construction of 1330 kilometres of new roads and 16 new bridges and the renovation of 620 kilometres of existing roads in the U.P. Himalayas. This project was initiated on the grounds that past road construction represented but a 'nominal fraction of the total requirements for the full exploitation and proper development of these [hill] forests'

The construction of modern dams has been another major reason for deforestation of our land. Not only have large-amounts of forests to be cleared to construct the dam, but also large amounts of forests are submerged as a result. 'The area of Urinam project, for instance, had excellent pine forests which had to be submerged', [SIE, p. 44] to build a reservoir for storing water.

Lots of trees are being felled in the name of development. It is obvious that preservation 'of forests has a low priority for our government, however much it may claim otherwise. But to blame only the government, corrupt forest officials and contractors, is still eschewing, the problem. They only accentuate the problem. To understand the problem, one has to see its relationship to the vision we have been talking about. One has to see its relationship with the modern lifestyle which we all seem to be striving for.

The vision of our planners unfolds itself rather well in the report of NCA. It is almost the theme of the report. It also enables us to take a look at where we are heading to. '

III. The Vision of our Policy Makers

(a) On use of forests by rural and tribal populations

'Despite rapid advancement made during the last 25 years in various fields including agriculture, the agriculturists' direct consumption of forest products remains more or less the same as was recorded by the Royal Commission of Agriculture [in 1927]. Most of the cultivators still live in a house made of wood and thatch, use age old country ploughs, use cattle for tilling and drawing the cart made largely of wood and bamboo. For all these domestic needs, small timber, fuel, grass, fodder and other forest products are of paramount importance. For- the people living in the vicinity of the forests, there are many products apart from fuel and fodder which are directly consumed, tike bamboo, agricultural implements, fibres and flosses, fruits, mahua, flowers tendu leaves for bidi manufactures, barks and leaves for tans and dyes, gums and resins etc., and others too numerous to be mentioned here-The consumption goods are obtained free or at nominal rates; because of the incidence of rights and privileges. [NCA, p. 11]

'Since the importance of tangible and non-tangible benefits over and above timber and fuel was not adequately demonstrated to the rural population, no awareness of the place of forest in rural economy could develop' [NCA, p. 2]

Thus according to NCA, the use of forests by the rural population is a sign of its backwardness. Also, even while using it, these people do not realise the importance of forest resources. It goes ahead to state:

'Free supply of forest produce to the rural population and their rights and privileges has brought destruction to the forests and so it is necessary to reverse the process. The rural people have not contributed much towards the maintenance or regeneration of the forests. Having over-exploited the resources, they cannot in all fairness expect that somebody else will take the trouble of providing them with forest produce free of charge' [NCA, p. 25]

The condescending and hostile attitude of our planners towards the use of forest produce by the agricultural population is pretty clear. They have no sense of our history; otherwise they would have at least some idea of the contribution of our rural population towards forest conservation. The political imperatives of not completely alienating the rural population may not allow them to attempt a total prevention of our rural population's use of forest resources. But the attitude is clear. The same is the attitude towards grazing practices.

'This programme would reduce one of the adverse biotic factors affecting forests, namely unrestricted and often surreptitious collection and use of forest produce under the extensive rights and privileges . There are number of other biotic factors such as grazing, fire, loppings, shifting cultivation, litter removal etc., which are operative in the catchment areas affecting the , hydrological processes under different forest conditions in the catchments. These are often the results of the presence of extensive rights and privileges of the villagers.' [NCA, p, 128].

As early as in 1952, National Forest policy stated

'Cheap forest grazing has a demoralising effect and leads to the vicious spiral of reckless increase in the number of cattle, inadequate forest grazing, reduced quality of herds and further increase in thu numbers to offset the fall in quality. Free and indiscriminate grazing is, therefore, a disservice to cattle breeding. The notion that a farmer's wealth must be reckoned in terms of the cattle he owns", -regardless of quality, is, .one of the causes of India's uneconomic cattle wealth and must be combatted.' [NCA, p. 135]

'A grazing fee shold be charged, but it should not be so small so as to encourage the owners of nonessential livestock to bring the animals for grazing in the forest areas [NCA, p. 26].

About shifting cultivation, NCA is of the view:

'The major problem in the productive use of forests in the tribal regions is the shifting cultivation practiced by the tribals in the forests.

'As such, both from the point of view of forest development and economic well-being ot the tribals themselves, the wasteful practice of shifting cultivation should be regulated, contained and replaced as expeditiously as possible, by resorting to agri-silvicultural methods apart from other methods' [NCA, p. 26).

'It was brought to our notice, that the problem of humming [shifting cultivation] had reached the present proportions because of the system of community ownership' [NCA, p. 153, emphasis ours].

However, the NCA, the Dhebar Commission (1960-61), the Task Force on Development of Tribal Areas of the Planning Commission (1973) or other government bodies set up from time to time to look into the matter recognise that shifting cultivation cannot be replaced overnight. They therefore recommend 'to regulate shifting cultivation 'on scientific lines' [NCA, p. 151] or recommend that the 'growing of trees for commercial purposes such as bamboo and horticulture might be taken up in the hum areas' [NCA, p. 151].

The tribals are totally dependent on forests. NCA recognizes that. It recommends therefore that 'The main approach to the solution 6! problems of shifting cultivation should be permanently settling the shifting cultivators' [NCA, p. 156].

It recommends small-scale irrigation from streams, effective extension education, terracing and setting right the land tenure system. But then it qualifies itself;

'Settled and permanent agriculture need not necessarily be the only policy in regulating shifting cultivation for several reasons. The cost of terracing and preparing the land is very high. The same amount. if invested in the programme of plantation crops, like rubber and coffee, production forestry and development of minor forest produce, can create the'requisite level of employment, and hence provide an alternative to shifting cultivation.' [NCA, p. 27]

'In some tribal areas, where shifting cultivation is not much in vogue, it may be necessary to take up commercial production forestry programme.' [NCA, p. 157].

Thus, the various practices of utilization of forests by agricultural and tribal populations are declared as wasteful. Agricultural population should modernize itself and not use wood and bamboo for their carts and ploughs; probably they should use tractors and trucks. Grazing should be reduced; the modern high yielding exotic cattle of the White Revolution do not require much grazing they feed on cattle-feed processed in industries. The tribals should give up their use of forests and settle for agriculture or better still become wage-labourers for production forestry. However with one aspect of tribal life, our planners do not have any quarrel,

'The tribal people and others living in or around the forests in the backward regions often take to collection I of the MFP as their principle means of livelihood. By setting up suitable state agencies for collection, marketing, etc., it would be possible to assure this section of the population employment and a reasonable minimum wage.' [NCA, p. 34].

So the tribals can and should collect the minor forest for produce industries and exports, not for their own consumption. The NCA is clear that the tribals must be given employment. On this point they seem to be even ' progressive'.

'It is often the practice, because of the inability to set up an adequate supervisory organization and due to the tendency to play safe in audit matters, that sub-contracts are given for different operations, even in departmental working. It is hardly possible for the state to ensure payment of reasonable wages to the labourer or to ensure employment of the local skilled and unskilled labour in such cases. Moreover there is a reasonable apprehension that allowing the contractors inside the forests may lead to unauthorized removal of valuable forest materials. We therefore recommend that in the departmental operation, direct employment of local labour should be secured' [NCA, p. 102].

Quantitatively, the collection of MFP is not much of a problem. If a labourer is assured adequate wages, he will collect the material, no matter how difficult the job is. At present minor forest products are, by and large, collected and marketed through private contractual agencies. But the trend is changing as the State Governments have realized the importance of MFP as a high revenue earner and have set the pattern by arranging collection departmental, or through tribal corporations and or forest labourers' co-operative societies' [NCA, p. 269].

In other words, NCA advocates abolition or reduction of the contract system. This is actually not inconsistent with the planners' vision . Continuation of the contract system was an exigency preferred by our government till today. With rising opposition of tribals this may not be the best policy. It is not at all fundamental to our planners' vision. As long as the forests are secured for the industry and the agricultural and tribal population is prevented from utilizing these resources, they are content. Whether actually the contract system is abolished will depend on the influence the contractors have on bureaucracy and local officers and the opposition that various tribal organisations can mount. But it will be a mistake to think that if the contract system gets abolished the tribal population will get much higher wages. Industrial development depends on these 'cheap' forest resources; and therefore these resources must be kept cheap. Some different form of contract system or other system to exploit the labour of tribals cheaply will appear.

(b) Ecology is important but . . .

In Chapter 44 of its report, NCA comments on the ecological role of the forests (quoted earlier on p. 70). It states.

'the beneficial effects of a forest ecosystem on human environment consist in moderating the climate maintaining the soil mantle, regulating the water supplies, purifying the air and helping in noise abatement The forests also provide recreation' [NCA, p 29].But then it adds,

'In view of the fact that forests are a vital element of the environment and there are intricate interactions between them and the environment, the planning and management of the forest have of necessity to reflect tne concern for maintaining and improving the quality of environment. This concern cannot disregard the productive function of the forests.' [NCA, p. 30].

It goes ahead to quote FAO (1972) :

'Possibly the best way to merge and link the social and productive functions of forests is to make forestry a profitable undertaking' [NCA, p. 301].

Therefore, though it classifies forestry as (i) protection forestry (ii) production forestry and (iii) social forestry, it states :

'Such areas where even the slightest disturbance of the forest cover is undesirable should be classified as protection forests.., It is obvious that very stringent tests will have to be applied to take out an area entirely from the orbit of productive forests and to earmark it for protection of terrain only . . , Protection afforded to those forests is a guarantee enough for preservation of landscape.

NCA recommends creation of wilderness areas. However it states that

'This idea [wilderness areas] is enshrined in local folklore in many places, where certain peaks are devoted to deities and are inviolable. This consideration, however, has necessarily to be subordinated to the larger interests of defence against external dangers' [NCA, p. 301]. Thus, ecology is important, but only after the productive interests and 'national interests'. NCA, in fact, goes on to state that the time for conservation oriented forestry has passed.

(c) Progressive yield theory :

'Contribution ,of the forestry and logging sector to the net domestic product at factor cost [at 1960-61 prices] was only 1,3 per cent in 1960-61 and as already stated 1.5 per cent in 1972-73. It is not expected to rise much in the near, future. Several reasons may be identified for this state of affairs, much of which may be traced to the conservation oriented forestry practiced at present... This has resulted in less production, less income, less requirement of ancillary services and less employment' [NCA, p. 8].

'The main [principal which runs .through all economic and technical planning for a forest division is the principal of 'sustained yield' . . . The principal of 'sustained yield' based on non-interference goes against the contemporary view that the bulk of the national forests needs to be converted into plantations of high productivity. This principle, considered at one time the best basis of forest management, did in fact go a long way in preserving the forests and was a good starting point. Besides, forestry products as industrial raw materials today enjoy a market value which they never had before. Hence, there is a need to shift from the principal of 'sustained yield' to one of the 'progressive' yield until such time as the forests reach a state of maximum productivity'.

(d) Man-made forestry:

To reach this state of maximum productivity, the 'forest science' as well as NCA advocate man-made forestry.

'Demonstrated technology in the world is showing the way for fuller utilization and improved productivity from the forests through silvicultural measures. The practice of creating man-made forestry, particularly the quick growing species, very often exotic, is a part of it' [NCA, p. 3).

'A quick reconnaissance should be done in all the states to divide the production forests into: [a] mixed forests, [b] valuable forests, and [c] inaccessible forests.

[i] Mixed Quality Forests : Mixed quality stands are of comparatively low economic value at piesent but have much' higher potential. These forests have a low proportion of valuable or economic species Their clear felling and conversion to valuable stands of economic species would result in a appreciably higher production within a comparatively short period.

[ii] Valuable Forests: Valuable stands are yielding. Substantial revenues at present but are still not producing the optimum return which the site is capable of. Their conversion would lead to a substantially higher outturn and revenue per hectare.

[iii] Inaccessible Forests: Forests situated in remote areas have mature and over-mature stands leading to attendant deterioration. These forests have remained largely unworked or are partially word due to lack of infrastructure or high exploitation cost' [NCA], p. 24].

'Future programmes should concentrate on clear felling of inaccessible hardwood forpsts, followed by that of mixed quality forests and valuable forests, and planting with suitable fast growing species yielding higher return per unit area. The resulting produce from the clear - felled areas should be utilised in wood based industries as far as possible' [NCA, p.'71].

Thus mixed forests, which are good both for ecological reasons as well as from the point of view of local utilization, are regarded by NCA to be of low economic value and hence it recommends clear-felling these forests for industrial plantations. Similarly inaccessible forests (inaccessible to the urban industrial sector) still preserve the beauty, ecology and provide source of livelihood to the local population; NCA recommends reaching these forests and clear-felling them at the earliest.

'The experience of other countries shows that forestry can give higher return per hectare, provided it is 'possible to adopt intensive management including creation of man-made forests on a far larger scale than has been hitherto possible in India for lack of adequate investment. Limitation of usable land, coupled with ever-increasing demand for forest based products, makes it imperative that maximization of return per hectare of forest land has to be attempted. It is necessary to go in for balanced inputs at high cost as against traditional practices with low costs' [NCA, p. 68].

'Apart from the monetary benefits, these plantation forests have also the advantage of suitability and homogeneity of and product, high growth rates and short rotation. By correct choice of species much more rapid growth rates can be achieved than in natural forests' [NCA, p. 70).

NCA then goes ahead to routinely mention,

'However, man-made forests have their problem, viz. selection of species with reference to site, quality of seed, difficulties in seed procurement, risk of disease and insect attack, improvement of techniques, long term effect on soil and productivity, etc,' [NCA, p. 70, emphasis ours.].'

But then it dismisses all this and proceeds to state,

A changeover to intensive man-made forestry will however, bestow the following advantages;

[i] immediate increase in timber and pulpwood availability for meeting the present demand;

[ii] creating incentive for increasing installed capacity of industries consuming.forest produce thereby providing additional employment in secondary and tertiary sectors;

[iii] planning future production of pulpwood according to the market preferences, both internal and international, and reduction of wasteful growth;

[iv] built in soil conservation programme. (NCA 70)

Thus having established the relevance of man-made forestry, NCA report states,

a gross revenue of Rs. 21.50 and a net return of Rs. 11.50 per hetctare are being obtained from the country's forests with an avarage plan and non-plan expenditure of Rs. 10 per hectare. If progressive methods are adopted, a much higher net return may be expected, as in other countries. For instance, it was calculated that in West Germany, an expenditure of Rs. 435 per hectare brings in a gross income of Rs. 565 and a net return of Rs. 130 per hectare... Forestry can get out of this rut of low productivity and perpetual shortages of essential forest based industrial products by going in for' balanced inputs at higher cost against traditional forestry with low cost inputs' [NCA, p. 9],

NCA goes ahead to recommend an input expenditure on man-made forests of Rs. 1,200 per hectare. The massive dose of inputs that NCA is proposing to modernise forestry will totally change the nature of India's forests. It requires an entirely new technology, various effects of which are not even examined. The destructive impact of such technologies has become evident in many a country but this is largely ignored. In fact, these investment - ratio figures themselves are suspect how far and for how long these are repeatable is not examined. That the NCA is not very sure about the investment ratio is betrayed when it argues at length $0 include the return of initial felling and sale of standing timber as a part of the return of the project.

entered the project stream was open 'to question in the minds of some foresters, The question of the legitimacy of imputing the net income as a project benefit has been considered, and we are of the view that the procedure adopted is justified. In this connection we quote below the view of the Ford Foundation in India so far as it relates to the project of Eastern Maharastra; it has relevance to the formulation of future projects in otherstates too:

The first operation, clear cutting fetches an income. This benefit must be attributed to the project for a very simple reason ; it materializes because of the project, and would not occur without it. Naturally there is a cost to it: the income foregone from the original growing stock. Fortunately for the project economics this cost is very low. By and large the forests are over-mature, poorly stocked, or both. This fact, reflected in negligible net annual growth is further aggravated by the high exploitation costs resulting from the disperse selective cutting operations hitherto prevalent.

In other words, without the project, these would carry on the languid, low (physical and economic) productivity regime of to-day. With the project they are to be replaced, with a small cost by high yielding plantations.

In terms of standard benefit cost parameters, a situation like the one prevalent in Eastern Maharashtra should put the project high in economic ranking. And this is only a natural consequence of the very valuable (and relatively new) market possibilities that most forests find in India today" [NCA, p. 71],Even if this manipulation of cost-benefit parameters does not suffice, NCA further recommends that this initial income from clear - felling must not be taxed. It states that,

"there is a case for amending the tax laws in such a way that reasonable deductions are allor wed from the net-income for creation and maintenance of the man-made forests,' [NCA, p. 109).

The vision that our policy-makers hold should be obvious by now. Depriving the rural and the tribal populations of any use of forest resources are to be exploited at a greatly enhanced rate in the interest of monopoly urban industrial sector. This enhanced exploitation will obviously affect the ecology and the resources of tomorrow— This is indeed a problem, but this concern must not hinder industrial growth. The industrial growth should proceed unhampered, the tribal and rural populations should, help this process and no matter what the cost is, everything should be geared towards this goal.

It is not that this vison is totally new. To an extent, this vision of growth and development has been with our government for about a hundred years. What is new is the scale at which the operations are to be conducted now. As we wilt show in the next few sections, all caution is being thrown overboard. The scale of the programme, particularly the man-made forestry programme, is so large that soon modern science and modern productive process will come to directly dom'tnate all our forest and. So far,] in spite of the pressure from the urban-industrial sector, the rural) and the tribal populations have been able to utilize some of their resources, though this resource-base has been shrinking. Now this resource-base is to be totally taken away.

(e) Future demand of wood and plans for supply:

NCA has worked out estimates of domestic consumption of various wood products in 1980, 1985 and 2000 and thereby calculated the timber requirement for various purposes. Table 11 presents the estimated requirement of pulp and paper products in 1980, 1985 and 2000.

Table—11 : Aggregate domestic consumption of various categories of pulp and paper in 1980,1985 and 2000 A.D. (thousand tons).














Printing and








writing paper
















Industrial paper








Paper board








Dissolving paper








The paper industry started on materials like grass, rags, and other waste materials.
In the more recent past, bamboo dominated the scene and still is in dominant position. The shortage of all these conventional materials has now shifted the demand towards other raw materials, particularly hard woods. Large scale plantations of fast growing species like eucalyptus have substantially altered the wood raw material supplies for pulp' [NCA, p. 59].

Table—12 presents the different categories of pulp and raw material requirements along with the demands for sawn wood, panel product, matchwood and round wood. In calculating raw material requirements, the assumption has been made that technology will improve to increase pulp production per unit volume of wood. Table—13: presents the demand of raw-material other than pulpwood for pulp and paper.

Table—12 : Aggregate raw material requirements for 1980,1985 and 2000


Coniferous wood

Hard wood











Sawn wood






















Panel products

Plywood &



















.    520
























Pulp and Paper















































































Table—13 Estimated requirement of raw materials other than pulpwood for pulp and paper (in thousand tons)


High estimate

Low estimate






















Waste paper and others



















from forest sources


1 490



3.36     3,143


from non-forest sources







(a)   consumption or demand per thousand persons in tons.

(b)   total in thousand tons.

About the supply possibilities of such following to say :

The total requirements of industrial wood would rise to about 25 to 27 million m3 in 1980, 30 to 35 million m3 in 1980, and 47 to 64 million m3 in 2000 A.D. For entering the export market vigorously from 1985 onwards in respect of sawn wood and plywood and veneer, additional industrial wood requirement would be as follows : 1985 3 0 to 3.7 million m3(r); 2000 — 4.8 to 6.6 million ma(r). Similarly fuel wood demand would rise quite substantially. The demand of industrial wood and fuel wood be met by :

[i] man-made forestry programme;

[ii] concentrated natural regeneration programmes;

[iii] working of inaccessible coniferous and hardwood forests by infrastructural development;

[iv] thinning and final fellings of existing plantations; and

[v] social forestry [NCA, p. 64].

Annual area (ha)

Average rotation (years)


Total area required (million ha)

man-made forestry






coniferous pulpwood (tropical pines)




hardwood pulpwood




saw logs, veneer logs etc.


natural regeneration (concentrated)






coniferous wood










'In order to produce the diverse categories of industrial wood, about 55 percent of the area felled is expected to be regenerated naturally and the balance by planting . . . The regeneration effort in 2000 A.D. can be visualized as follows :

It is therefore, necessary that an extent of about 48 million ha including 2.7 million ha of coniferous t forests, should be identified immediately and dedicated as production forests in use. ..

The regeneration operations are expected to increase from the present level of about 3 lakh ha to about 6 lakhs ha by 1985 and then further to about 8 lakh ha by 2000 A.D. Considering that about Rs. 500 per ha may be needed for natural regeneration and Rs. 1200 per ha for man-made forestry, the average annual requirement til 1985 would work out to be about Rs. 35-36 crores' [NCA, p. 65].

Thus, to meet the 'low' demand for industrial wood, NCA proposes to reserve about 50 million ha for industrial plantation . Further, according to NCA, the average annual removal of wood for the period 1965-66 to 1969-70 was 0.31 m3/ ha/yr, of which 0.13 m3/ha/yr was industrial and 0.18 m3/ha/yr was fuel wood. This must increase to 0.33 to 0.36 m3/ha/yr in 1980, 0.44 - 0.52 m3/ha/yr in 1985 and 0-69-0.95 hr3/ha/yr in 2000 for industrial wood alone. This massive increase, according to NCA, is possible through industrial plantation. It cites the following Mean Annual Increment of wood removal achieved in plantation crop as evidence :

'Dhupi plantation in Darjeeling hill, West Bengal: 25m3/ha in 25 years; Chir, sal and teak plantations in Bastar region M. P. 6.5 ms/ha, 7.5 m3/ha and 5.6 m3/ha per year respectively. . .
With the present state of intensive management, Kerala and U. P. achieved wood removal rates of 0.67 and 0.33 m ha/yr respectively in respect of industrial wood alone calculated on the gross forest area. It is possible to achieve higher rates of removal by opening up inaccessible forests'. [NCA, p. 66],

In several states, single intensive development projects contributed to dramatic increase in wood removal rates (in m2/ha/yr) as indicated below :


Current removal rate in the state

Increased removal rate

Bastar project in M.P.



Ford Foundation project in   East Maharastra



Darjeeling hills in W. Bengal



NCA also states that, if no constraint is put on the setting up of the forest based industries, the entire wood can be utilized as industrial wood [NCA, p. 67].

About meeting the fuel wood requirement, the NCA is of the view that out of 225 million m3 required only 60-70 million m3 can be obtained as by-products of production forestry in the form of lops and tops or residues of forest based industries. The rest should be met through the social forestry programme.

In fact apart from stating that part of industrial wood requirement can be met through social forestry and stressing that fuel wood and pulpwood are interchangeable, the NCA also states about social forestry that, 'at the same time these programmes would remove a serious impediment in the practice of production forestry' [NCA p. 120]. These are the reasons for the enthusiasm towards the social forestry programme.

Thus the vision is grand—to convert 50 million ha of our land into production forests (not more than 30-35 million ha of our land to-day is believed to be under forest cover) Everything else is to serve this end. This vision of so massively mobilizing and placing all resources for centralized urban-based industry comes along with a number of associated policies and programmes. As has already been emphasised, local use of these resources by rural and tribal populations is looked upon as a waste, as an impediment to development; conservancy and ecology are of secondary importance and are to be introduced later as an afterthought; besides, associated with this vision is amongst others (i) use of modern technology and scientific policies and infrastructural development, (ii) the policy of promotion of exports etc". This is totally a Western post-industrial revolution view; and the great success that our colonizers have had is that they have been able to make us buy this view.

(f) Technology change and infrastructural development :
Development of Industries

'A production forestry programme cannot be undertaken without assuring simultaneous growth in forest based industries, notably paper and pulp industry'. [MCA, p. 89]

Logging practices:

Logging in India has paradoxically enough remained at best an undertone only. Whereas the general research and investigations on biological aspects of forestry are very advanced, progress in logging development is poor' [NCA, p. 94],

'Till about the middle of nineteenth century, the axe in its most incipient form was the sole logging-tool for the felling and shaping of wood. This resulted in a very high wastage as the tool could be used only at a certain height above the ground. Even now the contemporary practice in Himalayas in the north, as well as in some coppice forests in southern W. Bengal, is equally wasteful. As trees a(e felled at convenient heights from the ground, it results in stumps from about 0.5 m in the planes to a high as 1.5m on slopes in the hills. Such stumps are a great obstruction in rolling the logs down an many are left behind in site after they get jammed within these high stumps' [NCA, p. 95].

Here NCA totally ignores the damage that the practice of rolling down the logs causes to the forests, particularly the hill slopes.

Training centers:

'It was very soon felt that training in use of modern tools for wood harvesting, including felling and transport, should receive the foremost attention in the forestry sector if efforts in improving the current practices were to make any practical progress. With this idea came into being the Logging Training Centre Projects (with collaboration from FAO)1 [NCA, p. 97].

Mechanization and manual labour

'In a study it was concluded that while mechanization could bring down the cost of harvesting to Rs.288 per ha compared to the manual cost of Rs. 500, the employment went down from 100 man-days to about half a man-day. But site clearing (winrowing), an operation which could not be done, by manual labour, increased the demand for labour, [NCA, p. 100].

Road density:

'After considering the present average toad density of. about 0.20 km. per sq. km. and the existence and future possibilities of roads under the auspices of other organisations, it should be necessary to plan for additional 0.45 km of roads per sq. km. of forest dedicated to production forestry, to be achieved by 2000 A.D. The area of such forests is likely to be not less than 48 million ha or 4,80,000 sq. km; the total length of roads (main roads, branch roads and feeder roads) to be considered approximately in the next 25 years for successful implementation of production forestry programme would be about 2,15,000 km. The fifth plan target is of 15,000 km. in five years, a target that ought to be achieved yearly in the nineties, if self-sufficiency in industrial wood production is to be achieved', [NCA, p. 105].

Fertilizer and insecticides:

'In the production forestry envisaged by us, the use of chemical fertilizers for obtaining higher growth rate would be one of the standard techniques wherever necessary' [NCA. p. 106]. 'With the introduction of the massive programme of production forestry we have recommended, the need for fertilizer by 2000 A.D. for the forestry sector may go upto 65 to 75 thousand tonnes per annum' [NCA, p.107]

So, the forest which had hitherto served as a source of fertilizer for agriculture are now going to become recipients of fertilizer. Similarly, NCA talks about the necessity of introducing seeds of exotic variety for quicker growth and insecticides, though it recognizes,

'Chemical control is extensively used in case of teak defoliators or against termites in eucalyptus plantations. It is to be remembered, however, their many chemicals are broad-spectrum killers. Some of the chemicals, e.g. chlorinated hydrocarbons, are non bio-degradable or degrade extremely slowly. Through various food and water chains they find their way inside the system of men, birds, fishes and other useful animals' [NCA, p. 117].

'The increased danger from disease and insect pests in man made forestry stems from two causes. Firstly, the indigenous pests and pathogens may become important on exotic tree species, though many remain latent in the natural forests. Secondly pests and pathogens introduced inadvertently may become serious threats' [NCA, p. 119].

(g) Export promotion:

NCA recommends going to any length to promote exports.

'An analysis of the species exported exhibits a very disappointing feature. It is seen that mainly three or four hardwood species are being exported, though the demand for other Indian hardwood species can also be created' [NCA. p. 75].

We Suggest that with a view to earning foreign exchange, export of well known species that are in demand in the export market should be allowed liberally, and the use of other available hardwood species as substitutes popularized in the domestic market. It may be mentioned that the Marketing Research Corporation of India also suggested the imposition of a severe excise duty on teak sawn wood, so as to restrict domestic consumption. We agree with the recommendation' [NCA, p. 79].

"... in order to switch over from export in sawn wood from round wood, .it would require improvement in
the quality of sawing in India, so as to satisfy the exacting demand of the trade in Europe and Japan In our least capital-intensive saw milling industry, the machinery used is quite elementary and precision sawing is out of question ... In such saw mills [for exports] precision machinery should be installed, so. that it is possible to produce spawn timber with the requisite tolerance limits' [NCA, p. 79].

'If however, instead of flash drying method the sheet forming method is used, the additional cost may be 10-15 per cent to be paid in foreign exchange, However, there is a good prospect of the export of rayon grade pulp, in view of high price and demand in the world market' [NCA, p. 90],

NCA states that; 'India has some timber outstandingly suitable for wood carving' [NCA, p. 83]. Wooden toys must be made out of these and sold abroad.

'In view of the demand for economically r important timber, secondary species and less valuable timber should be used for domestic requirements after seasoning chemical treatment. The economically important, and very often naturally durable, timber may be kept for the purpose of export so as to earn more foreign exchange' [NCA, p.'l15].

Similar is the attitude, when NCA talks about forests in Andaman and Nicobar Islands— here the export being to 'mainland' India.

'For Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 310 tree species have so far been recognized as constituents of the tropical moist forest of the Islands, but only 24 of them are considered commercial. A recent enumeration has shown that while 75 m3/ha is the growing stock of 'commercial' timber, there is a further stock of 175 m3/ha of non-commercial timber. In such situations selective harvesting of the preferred species is undertaken. It is wasteful of wood resources, harmful to future wood production and costly in the use of resources' [NCA, p. 85].

At riverside depots the logs are rafted and sent towards central depots, where logs are sorted out inferior species for local consumption and superior quality for transhipment to Howrah (Calcutta) and Madras [NCA, p. 16].

(h) a ridiculous extent:

The primacy of industrial plantation runs through and through the NCA report.
NCA goes, many times, to a ridiculous extent to promote this. Here are some examples:

Recycling paper depresses demand:

"In the paper and paper broad segment, the demand for industrial paper remains depressed due to widespread use of old newspaper for packaging in grocer's shops, etc,' [NCA, p.88].

Recommending tax-exemption:

Farm forestry is being used extensively to grow trees of commercial interest, in the name of providing fuel wood. NCA recommends [p. 121] that such farm forestry should get exemption from estate duty, wealth tax etc. as done in USA, UK, etc.

Minor Forest Produce:

About minor forest produce, NCA envisages [p. 238] that the production of oil from sal seeds would increase to 8,00,000 tons by 2000 A.D. Other trees would contribute another 4,00,000 tons of oil production. This would require a crushing capacity of 7 million tons of minor oil seeds. It calls for 'scientific method of factory style production to reduce wastage' for minor forest produce.

Concentration is cheaper:

NCA also' states, 'In case of plantation forestry of to-day, however, the coupes
are getting larger and larger from financial considerations as concentrations of working is cheaper' [NCA, p. 309].

Recreation for urban people:

The urban population needs a break from its busy, tiring and unhealthy routine. As every one cannot go to distant national parks or forests, it should be possible for the states to bring part of nature closer to the city dwellers. This can best be achieved by developing pieces of land in or near cities into forest parks, gardens etc [NCA, p. 313],

Several stretches of highways and railroads pass through national forests. In the normal working of these natural forests economic considerations are likely to prompt the foresters to extend clearing of forests right upto f the highways and railroads, in course of routine fellings. Such bared patches are unsightly and leave an . undesirable impression on the travelers. The travelers should, on the other hand, get an impression of traversing through deep forests. Natural strips of such minimum depth, as may be necessary keeping local conditions in view, should therefore invariably be preserved on both sides of the track so that the clearing done behind may not be visible'. [NCA, p. 313].

Forest science is superstition:

Finally, and probably the most significant aspect of this vision comes out, when NCA resorts to the forestry 'science' to defend its vision. According to NCA, shifting cultivation is bad for the forests, but if under the taungya method, the tribals adopt a similar practice to plant commercial species, it really is not bad. As if just the words 'industrial crop' is to be uttered and the soil knows that it is time to behave. Similar is its attempt to justify (quoting some American studies) that clear felling if meant for industrial plantation does not affect the hydrological conditions of the forest [NCA, p. 128]. It often uses, 'lack of sufficient studies to scientifically prove the effect' as an argument to justify any and all aspects of man-made forestry programme. Similarly, while decrying grazing and lopping, it justifies grazing and lopping when it would make removal of industrially valuable species easier. The accompanying article, "The nature of Forestry "Science", 'takes a serious look at this aspect of forestry 'science.


It is obvious that if the recommendations of NCA are put into practice, it will not only have an extremely adverse effect on our rural and tribal population, but it would also lead to destruction of all our forests and cause almost irreparable damage to our soil. A change in this vision is urgently needed.

Recently, Sharad Kulkarni in an article. 'Toward a Social Forest Policy',18 has taken a look at the NCA report and has come to similar conclusions. He has gone ahead and suggested certain guidelines for a forest policy:

The objectives of any forest policy should be

(a) protection of environment and ecological balance;
(b) meeting the basic needs of the forest dwellers - fruits, roots and flower, fodder, fuel, fertilizers ,etc. ; and
(c) the needs of industrial raw material and those of urban population. Export needs should form a minor part of the last mentioned objective.

Sharad Kulkarni has listed these three objectives in order of priority. Environment comes first, followed by the needs of the forest dwellers, followed by industrial needs. This should be seriously considered.

Yet, we would like to emphasise, once again, that in the not too distant past when the forest dwellers had control over the forest, the forests met the needs of Both the tribal and rural populations without causing any adverse impact on ecology The agriculture and the cottage industries depended on these forests and the people had a stake in preserving them. It will probably not be very useful to emphasise environment and ecology in an external sense. Also, as long as development, progress,

advancement are understood to be development of urban-based centralized industrial sector, as long as national needs are understood to be synonymous with the needs of defence, communication and industry, the priority would not shift from industrial use of forestry. It is only with an alternate vision of development that the priority can shift back to the rural-tribal population. Such shift will also create conditions to restore the emphasis on ecology. The vision of 'scientific forestry' in our country has continuously deprived our tribal and rural populations of control and use of forest resources. The alternative policy must start with restoring once again, these rights to tribal and rural populations, and encourage their utilization of these resources.

Such a vision will bring a fundamental change in our society. However far-fetched it may appear to-day, it is the vision which is consistent with equality, justice and ecology. The" seeds of this vision are present in many movements today in the country. Tribal movements around the country and Chipko movement in the Himalayan region are already putting forth these demands. Movements against the recent forest bill have generated quite a bit of consciousness in this regard. Recently farmers in Karnataka under the leadership of 'Ralta-Sangha' went around cutting down the eucalyptus plantations; they did not want to produce raw-materials for urban industries. Several people around the country have started speaking against the exports of forest produce from our country. Voices are now being raised against expansion of road-networks and building of huge dams. What is needed is that all these voices together contribute to an alternative vision, towards a new society.

Author: Madras Group


* S. P. Dabral, History of Uttarkhand-Garhwal, Vol. VII, (page 107- Lt. Col. Pitcher's Report) 1978.

* For details of destruction and reservation of forests and the impact on agricultural and forest community during British Rule, see the accompanying article, 'The story of 'scientific forestry 'in India : Some highlights'.

* According 'to Wiackowski [S. K. Wiackowski, 'Effects of and Amelioration of Air Pollution, Damage to Forest Ecosystem, Second FAO Technical Consultation on Forest Disease and Insects, New Delhi, 1975] the leaf surface is 10 to 20 times greater than the earth surface occupied by the plants. Plants not only intercept many tons of dust, but also effectively [change the concentration of harmful gases.

* See references 2, 4, 5 and M. S. Swaminathan, The Ecologist, June 1975.

* 'The State of India's Environment, 1982, A Citizen's Report', published by Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, hereafter abbreviated as SIE.

* See 'Indian Agriculture at the turn of the century', PPST Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 2, Nov. 1982,

* The average survival rate of industrial plantations is estimated at 70 per cent, that of fuelwood
plantation at 60 per cent and or environmental plantation at 50 per cent.

* In fact, the call to abolish non-governmental parties from working the forests is very old. It has come repeatedly during the colonial rule. Under non-governmental working of forests is included the use by rural population and tribals as well. But excessive enthusiasm to cover every bit of land with trees must be guarded against' [NCA, p. 305].


1. 'Chipko, a Novel Movement for Establishment of cordial relationship between Man and Nature,' Chipko Information center, 1981.

2. Raj Chegappa, 'Plunder Blunder," India Today, pp. 98-104, March 15, 1982.

3. Murad Ali Baig, 'Indian Forests', in 'Some aspects of Forestry in India', Environment Service Group, World Wildlife Foundation, New Delhi.

4. 'Undeclared Civil War', PUDR report. New Delhi, 1982.

5. Sabina Jain and Rakesh Joshi,r'A crusade for Green Hills', Madhumita Majumdar, 'Corrupt Merchants, Officials; Achilles Olympus-Mavrkordalos, 'Tortured Himalayas', The Illustrated Weekly of India, March 14, 1982.

6. Shanker Ranganathan, 'Relevant Forestry', in 'Some aspects of Forestry in India,' Environment Service Group, World Wildlife Foundation, New Delhi.

7. Desmond JD, Abro, 'People and Forests', Indian Social Institute, 1982.

8. Madhav Gadgil. Kailash, Malhotra, 'A People's View of Eco-development', Environment Service Group, World Wildlife Foundation New Delhi.

9. Anil Agarwal, 'The Future of Mud', Indian Express, March, 13, 1983.

10. Amarendra Bose, 'Pillage into Protected Forests", The Hindu, Sunday, March 20, 1983.

11. Joseph George, 'Forest Based Industry', in 'Some Aspects of Forestry in India', Environment Service Group, Worldlife Foundation, New Delhi.

12. Ratindra Nath Roy, 'Socialising the Forests', ASIDE, Vol. 4, No. 3, March 1980.

13. Vandana Shiva, Jayanto Bandopadhyaya, H. C. Saratchandra, 'The Social, Economic and Ecological Impact of Social Forestry in Kolar.' I. I. M. Bangalore 19 81

14. K. P. Sagreiya, 'Forests and Forestry', National Book Trust, New Delhi, 1967.

15. 'India's Forests', Central Forestry Commission, Ministry of Agriculture {Forest Division), 1983

16. Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, Forest Development Project, U. P.', 1971, pp. 117-21.

17. 'TowardsJan Industry-Oriented Forest Policy', Report on Forestry, 1972-84, Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission, p. 46.

18. Sharad Kulkarni, 'Towards a Social Forest Policy', Economic and Political Weekly, Feb. 5, 1983.

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