Shimla: Pine tree leaves (needles), which were once considered waste, have become a source of income for locals in Himachal Pradesh. An initiative started by the Hamirpur forest circle has steadily spread to Kunihar and Solan areas of the state.
The objective here is to collect waste pine leaves and sell them to cement companies in the area, which use these leaves as fuel in their plants.
Conservator Forest, Hamirpur, Pradeep Thakur informed that last year almost 500 tones of pine leaves were collected in the Hamirpur and were sold to Ambuja Cement company. This year the circle has set itself a target of 1000 tones.
Thakur, pleased with the imitative said that the forest department has received good response from people who have stood to earn some money by cleaning up the forests and helping the environment.
The Forest Department believes it will be able to implement the process successfully in Solan district too, considering that most cement factories are located in the district.
DFO Solan, Prem Mahajan said that last week the department identified a few areas in Dharampur to collect the pine tree leaves. He informed that these leaves will be sold to Punjab Biomass Power Limited at the rate of Rs1.65 per kg.
The Forest Department’s program of pine leaves collection is also being linked with their plans to curb forest fire incidents in Himachal.