Raipur: Chhattisgarh state is leading in the entire country today in forest conservation. During the lockdown in the Corona period, where forest-based economic activities were stalled throughout the country, Chhattisgarh had a good achievement during this period under the leadership of Chief Minister Shri Bhupesh Baghel. During the lockdown, Chhattisgarh had the maximum participation in forest produce collection. At the same time, the revenue of the forest dwellers from this work is expected to be about Rs 2500 crore. According to the data received from TRIFED, one lakh quintal forest produce has been collected in the state so far, for which collectors have been paid about 30 crore 20 lakh rupees. While the corona virus epidemic has destroyed the economy of the whole world, at the same time, the collection of tribal forest produce in Chhattisgarh is in pace with the livelihood of tribals as well as boosting the economy of the state.
Due to the closure of factories in the lock down, the problem of employment in the country has deepened, while in Chhattisgarh, forest dwellers are getting employment in gathering forest produce and providing forest cover in this crisis, due to which wheels of economy is running smoothly making the economy self-reliant. The new economic strategy of Chhattisgarh government is bringing a big change in the life of this large population of forest dwellers through forest produce. The state collects 15 lakh standard sacks of tendu leaves every year. With this 12 lakh 65 thousand collector families are getting employment. The value of tendu patta has been increased to Rs 4000 per standard bag by the state government, giving them a direct benefit of Rs 649 crore.
In Chhattisgarh, the state government has increased the number of forest products purchased through the minimum support price mechanism from 7 to 25 now. A total of Rs 930 crore of forest produce brought under the purview of the scheme is traded in the state. The forest produce is being procured through 866 hot markets. 10 lakh man-days of employment are being created in the state through wood art development, lac bangles manufacturing, dona-pattal making, drug processing, honey processing, bell metal, terracotta handicrafts work etc. Through the Forest Development Corporation, about 14,000 youths are being given employment through construction of bamboo tree guards, bamboo furniture manufacturing, planting of medicinal plants through Vanaushadhi Board etc. Similarly, with the help of CFTRI Mysore, production of Mahua based energy bar, chocolate, pickle, sanitizer, amla based dehydrated products, tamarind candy, jamun juice, bell sharbat, bell marmalade, chironji and cashew packets etc. are being planned. This will provide employment to more than 5 thousand families.
In Chhattisgarh, the income of forest dwellers is increasing continuously due to collection of minor forest produce. Tea plantations in Jashpur and Surguja districts directly benefit the beneficiaries. During the crisis of Covid-19, one thousand women have got employment through sewing of 50 lakh masks. In the current year, about 12 thousand women have received an additional income of Rs. 3 crore 23 lakh from primary processing of tamarind. In order to increase the income of the forest dwellers, in the year 2019, 18 lakh 56 thousand fruitful and beneficial varieties of saplings were planted on their own land of 10 thousand 497 forest dwellers. In the year 2020, there is target of planting 70 lakh plants on the own land of the forest dwellers. As part of efforts to promote lac production, 36 thousand main farmers have been selected in 164 production areas. About 12 thousand quintal vermi compost is being produced every year by about 800 beneficiaries.
Apart from this, other forest based activities have also created large employment opportunities in the forest areas. 30 lakh man-days of employment are being generated in the state through activities such as conservation of ground water, improvement of degraded forests, harvesting etc.
20 lakh man-days of employment are being created through forest planting, river bank planting etc. Similarly, about 50 lakh man-days of employment are available from the Narva Development Program under Campa. More than 7 thousand tribal youths have got employment through recurring Charai scheme, organic manure production, construction of seed ball etc.