Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Tendu Leaves Collection in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tendu Leaves, NTFP

Mains level : Not Much

Tribal residents in Chhattisgarh have decided to file an FIR against an official of the state forest department after he confiscated the tendu leaves that they had collected.

Tendu Leaves

  • Leaves of tree species Diospyros melanoxyion are used as wrappers of tobacco to produce bidi.
  • This tree is commonly known as “tendu,” but also called “abnus” in Andhra Pradesh, “kendu” in Orissa and West Bengal, “tembru” in Gujarat, “kari” in Kerala, “tembhurni” in Maharahstra, and “bali tupra” in Tamil Nadu.
  • This leaf is considered the most suitable wrapper on account of the ease with which it can be rolled and its wide availability.
  • Tendu is also called ‘green gold’ and is a prominent minor forest produce in India.

How it is traded?

  • In 1964, the trade in tendu leaves was nationalised in then-undivided Madhya Pradesh.
  • Until then, people were free to sell tendu leaves in markets across the country.
  • Maharashtra adopted the same system in 1969, undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1971, Odisha in 1973, Gujarat in 1979, Rajasthan in 1974 and Chhattisgarh in 2000.
  • Under this arrangement, the state forest department collects tendu leaves, allows their transportation and sells them to traders.

Why is there a dispute?

  • The dispute is essentially about who has the right to sell the leaves.
  • State governments say only they can do so due to nationalization.
  • On the other hand, tendu leaf collectors cite The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and the 2013 Supreme Court verdict in the Niyamgiri Case to say private collectors can sell them on their own.
  • Tendu leaf collectors allege that the government gives them a lower price for the leaves, while it fetches a higher price in the open market.

What do the tribals want?

  • The tribals, after having obtained forest rights leases under the FRA 2006, now want to sell tendu leaves on their own, with the permission of Gram Sabhas and make good profits.
  • Many types of minor forest produce like Mahua, Salbeej or the seeds of the Sal tree (Shorea robusta) and Chironji or Almondette kernels (Buchanania lanzan) are collected and sold by tribals.
  • Hence, there should not be a dispute over tendu leaves.

Back2Basics: Forest Produce in India

  • Forest produce is defined under section 2(4) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
  • Its legal definition includes timber, charcoal, catechu, wood-oil, resin, natural varnish, bark, lac, mahua flowers, trees and leaves, flowers and fruit, plants (including grass, creepers, reeds and moss), wild animals, skins, tusks, horns, bones, cocoons, silk, honey, wax, etc.
  • Forest produce can be divided into several categories.
  • From the point of view of usage, forest produce can be categorized into three types: Timber, Non-Timber and Minor Minerals.
  • Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are known also as minor forest produce (MFP) or non-wood forest produces (NWFP).
  • The NTFP can be further categorized into medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP), oilseeds, fibre & floss, resins, edible plants, bamboo, reeds and grasses

 

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