1st Five Year Plan
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Introduction || APPENDIX (CH-4) || APPENDIX (CH-9) || ANNEXURE (CH-12) || APPENDIX (CH-14) || APPENDIX (CH-24) || APPENDIX (CH-29) || Conclusion
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Chapter 21:

Forests play a vital role in India's economy. They are an important source of fuel and also of raw materials, such as, timber, bamboos, lac, gum, katha, useful for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes. They also provide materials for defence and communications as well as grazing for cattle. Forests help in the conservation of soil fertility and play an important part in the maintenance of the water regime of the land. The organic matter they yield improves the tilth and increases the water holding capacity of the soil thereby reducing the run-off. The presence of vegetation acts as a physical check to the velocity of the run-off and reduces its soil carrying capacity. Thus forests protect the hilly areas against excessive soil erosion. Similarly, they protect flat lands against dessication and erosion caused by winds. They exert a beneficial influence on the growth of agricultural crops and on the climate of the region in which they exist.

Forest Areas

2. Accurate statistics regarding the area under forests are not available. "Indian Forest Statistics" puts the area under forests in 1949-50 at 147-7 million acres (230,789 sq. miles) i.e. 18 per cent of the total land area as detailed in appendix I. This figure includes a considerable area of unwooded waste land, but no account is taken of tree lands, and there are gaps in coverage in respect of many States. On the whole, however, it is reasonable to assume that the area under forests constitutes about 20 per cent of the total land area.

3. Compared vvdth most other countries this is a low proportion. The Forest Policy Resolution of May 12, 1952, suggests that "India as a whole should aim at maintaining one-third of its total land area under forests. As an insurance against denudation a much larger percentage of the land, about 60 per cent, should be kept under forests for their protective functions in the Himalayas, the Deccan and other mountainous tracts liable to erosion. In the Plains, where the ground is flat and erosion is normally not a serious factor, the proportion to be attained should be placed at 20 per cent ; and in view of the pressure of agriculture, efforts at the extension of tree lands should be concentrated on river banks and other convenient places not suitable for agriculture". The gap between the aim outlined in this resolution and estimates of the area now under forests is very large. Further, the forests are confined mainly to the Himalayas, the Vindhyas and the Deccan ; the Indo-Gangetic basin has been left almost bare. A planned extension of regular forests would be subject to the availability of adequate waste areas and the demands made thereon for agricultural expansion to meet the needs of the ever increasing population. We suggest that an immediate reconnaissance survey be made of waste' land with a view to evolving a system of balanced and complementary land use. We further recommend two-fold measures, namely :—

  1. for each State, the proportion of the area that ought to be under forests should be clearly indicated by the Central Board of Forestry, keeping in view the principle of proper land-use, the nature of the terrain and the national needs. Deforestation may be allowed for the extension of permanent agriculture only where the area under forests is above this proportion or where some equivalent area can be afforested ; and
  2. the area under forests should be steadily extended over waste lands considered suitable for the purpose.

4. The extension of the area under regular forests would necessarily constitute a long-term plan. Considerable improvement can, however, be brought about by renovating large areas which, though classified as forests, have been deforested or have not been properly managed. For instance, about 40 million acres of zamindari forests have vested or will soon vest in State Governments on the abolition of zamindari and jagirdari. Over a considerable portion of this area large scale removal of trees has occurred in recent years as a result of zamindars' attempts to realise their forest assets. Further, overfelling of trees occurred in State forests during the last war. During 1945-46 production of timber and fuel wood increased by about 62% over the pre-war trienium. The rehabilitation and development of these forests should be given the first priority. In most Part B and Part C States, as well as in Part A States where merger has expanded the State-managed forest area, an adequate administrative organisation has to be built up. Provision has been made in the Plan for increasing the number of forest circles in U. P., Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Bombay ; and we consider that generally this five year period will be best utilised in planning the rehabilitation of these areas and setting up an adequate administrative machinery.

5. There is, however, immediate scope for extending the area under forests in three directions, namely—

  1. afforestation as a measure to prevent soil erosion ,
  2. extension of tree lands ; and
  3. establishment of village plantations.

We have elsewhere outlined measures for preventing soil erosion. The area under tree lands could be immediately extended with the cooperation of the public and of local bodies. The cooperation of the public should also be sought in planting trees along canal banks, village roads and railway lines. Useful work in this direction has been initiated as a part of the Van Mahotsava programme which should be organised on a systematic basis.

8. The Soft Coke Cess Committee, which was intended to popularise the uss of soft coke, ceased to operate during the war as increased supply of coke b^cam; difficult owing to the demands of the war effort on the rail transport system. The Planning Commission is examining the suggestion that the Soft Coke Cess Committee should be revived for the purposes of demonstrating in the rural areas the use of soft coke and its economies. A small cess on the sale of soft coke may be necessary to provide adequate finances for the Committee.

Production And Requirements of Timber

9. The production of timber recorded a large-scale increase during the forties. This occurred mainly to meet war requirements and resulted in considerable over-felling of trees. and destruction of forests. Production has since declined and is at present in the neighbourhood of i • 8 million tons per annum. Including imports the total quantity of timber available is about 2 • 10 million tons. This consists ofo-69 million tons of soft wood and i • 4 million tons of hard wood. Although as a result of partition some valuable species have been lost, the principal forest areas are still included in the Indian Union.

10. The present consumption of timber is classified as follows

(In thousand tons of round logs)
(a) Government consumption—  
Railway sleepers 340
Other railway demands 80
Defence and other Civil Departments . 160
total 580
(6) Manufacturing industries—  
Match industry 120
Packing case industry 75
Plywood industry 60
Tea chests 40
Robbins, battery separators, etc. 40
total 335
(c) Balance available for other-  
Industries and for domestic and building purposes 1195
grand total 2110

About 73 per cent of the total timber is thus utilised in the private sector and the offtake by the Government is about 27 per cent.

11. Since the war the demand for timber for defence has decreased. On the other hand, the demand for domestic and building purposes has increased considerably as a result of increased urbanisation and the rehabilitation programme. Further, as the availability of steel is far short of total requirements, a policy of conserving steel and replacing it by timber has become imperative and should be adopted in the following cases :

  1. Treated timber should be used for telephone, telegraph and electric power lines as is done in most countries of Europe. The annual demand "for poles and the means of meeting it in various parts of the country have to be worked out in consultation with the State Forests Departments. We understand that about 50 thousand poles could be obtained annually from the .Andamans and 30 thousand poles from the Sunderbans and Mahanadi areas. The Communications Ministry should take steps to utilize these poles and the States should see that the poles are supplied according to specifications.
  2. The Central and State Public Works Deparment should explore the possibilities of greater use of treated timber in building construction and major and minor engineering structures.

With its growing population and large scale development programme, India is likely to experience scarcity of structural materials for a long time to come, and it is, therefore, necessary to effect the utmost economy in this regard. We, therefore, recommend that a National Structural Board should be established which should consider which results of research can be carried into practice and adopted in building construction and how structural materials can be rationalised and standardised so that there may be the greatest possible economy.

12. Adoption of the measures outlined above will result in increased demand for timber. It has already been indicated that exploitable forests, particularly State-owned forests, have been over-exploited during the war. Greater production of timber would generally have to be obtained either from increased yields per acre or through development of potentially exploitable forests (about 20 million acres), which have not yet been exploited for lack of communications. The State Plans provide Rs. 104 lakhs for development of forest communications. It is necessary that schemes for utilising the inaccessible forest areas should be worked out in detail by a Committee of experienced Forest Officers

13. These are, however, essentially long term measures and the availability of timber is required to be stepped up immediately. This can be done to a considerable degree if besides the conventional species, substitutes like 'salai' and other perishable species are utilised after proper seasoning and treatment by suitable chemical methods, if necessary. The establishment of seasoning kilns and treatment units should, therefore, receive a high priority and it is suggested that

  1. Seasoning kilns and treatment units should be installed in every government saw mill ;
  2. The Railways should increase the number of their seasoning kilns and treatment plants to cover their entire requirements of timber ; and
  3. The D.G.S.D. should give preference to suppliers of wood who have their own seasoning kilns and treatment units.

Further, most species of timber are liable to deterioration through fungal decay or insect attacks, especially when the timber is green and the weather is humid and hot. Large scale wastage occurs on this account due to delay in transport and want of proper storage arrangements in forests and sale depots. These losses can be greatly minimised by the adoption of prophylactic measures giving temporary protection. Similarly the use of treated fence poles by the Defence and Forest Departments would lead to reduced wastage and consequent economy.

14. It is expected that as a result of these measures the availability of timber would be raised by a lakh of tons by 1955-56. Another lakh of tons may be obtained by developing the North Andamans. About 50 thousand tons may also be obtained from the systematic exploitation of the private forests which, as a result of the abolition of zamindari, will vest in the State Governments. The total availability of timber by the end of 1955-56 would thus increase by about 2 to 2.5 lakh tons or by about 10 per cent without increased pressure on exploitable forests.

Forest Industries And Minor Forest Produce

15. Besides supplying timber and fuel, the forests are an important source of raw materials for the matchwood, plywood and paper industries and also potentially for the rayon industry. We have described elsewhere the programme for the development of these industries. The present requirements of timber for the matchwood industry are estimated at about 1,40,000 tons. The Andamans are supplying the needs of the match industry at Calcutta and to a limited extent at Madras and Bombay. The supplies from the Andamans would be increased by about 45,000 tons by 1955-56, which should meet the requirements of the expansion of the match industry during the period of the Plan. As regards plywood timber, the present production is estimated at about 60,000 tons. The supplies from the Andamans may go up by about 30,000 tons. Another 20,000 tons may be found by either substituting timber like mango or arranging imports. The total availability of plywood timber would not, therefore, exeed 1,10,000 tons in I955'•56• This sets the limit to the expansion programme for the plywood industry.

16. Bamboo is the principal forest produce used in the manufacture of paper. Other forest products used for paper manufacture are Sabai grass in U. P. and East Punjab and Boswalia Serreta (Andukuoo'I) in Madhya Pradesh. With the partition of Bengal, the supplies of bamboo from East Pakistan have been mostly cut off and the paper industry in West Bengal has to depend mainly on Orissa forests for the supply of bamboos. Their annual requirements are estimated at about 75,000 tons, while the yield of bamboos from the Orissa forests is estimated at about 2,35,000 tons after making allowance for the needs of the local population. The extraction of bamboos from inaccessible areas involves a considerable outlay of capital on equipment, overheads and the construction of roads and paths. Long-term leases by the Orissa Government directly to the paper mills should facilitate the development of the unworked areas and the expansion of the paper industry at the mouth of the Mahanadi.

17. India is wholly dependent for its supplies of newsprint and pulp for staple fibre and rayon on imports from abroad. Large quantity of fir logs are available from the Himalayan region which could be utilised for the manufacture of mechanical and chemical pulp for the newsprint and staple fibre and rayon industries. Their annual supplies are estimated at about 1,80,000 tons. We have described elsewhere the feasibility of establishing a project for the manufacture of pulp, which should receive urgent attention.

18. The Forests also yield such minor products as lac, tanning materials, gums and resins, drugs, etc., the annual value of which is estimated at about Rs. 303 lakhs. Two of the minor products, namely, lac and myrobalans occupy position of considerable importance in our export trade. During 1950-51 seed lac, stick lac and shellac worth Rs. 11.87 crores were exported. Internal production of lac could be increased almost indefinitely and should be intensified. Synthetic resins, though costlier, have come into use recently and are replacing lac for electrical insulations. India has almost a monopoly in shellac and it is of considerable importance to this country that shellac should not lose ground to synthetic resins. There have been complaints about adulteration and it is necessary to adopt standardisation of contracts and grading of all exports. India also exported myrobalans and their products valued at Rs. i .32 crores during 1950-51. There is scope for the expansion of these exports provided collection can be intensified and grading done. Provision has been made elsewhere in the Plan for introducing grading of forest produce.

19. Cane has importance for internal consumption. Indian cane is generally considered less durable than Singapore cane. It would be worthwhile to get seed and cuttings of the varieties grown in Malaya and try them in India. We understand that the durability of the Singapore cane is due to some processing which might be tried in India.

Grazing Lands

20. Grazing in State forests yields about Rs. 95 lakhs of revenue annually. More important still, it provides fodder for about 13 million cattle, 3 million buffaloes and 9 million other animals and thus plays a vital role in the agricultural economy. On this subject the Forest Policy Resolution says :—

"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 the herds and further increase in their numbers to offset the fall in quality. Free and indiscriminate forest grazing is, therefore, a serious disservice to cattle breeding... Grazing should not be looked upon primarily as a source of revenue but the simple and obvious way of regulating and controlling grazing as also improving the quality both of grazing and "cattle themselves is to institute a reasonable fee for the privilege of grazing."

We are in general agreement with this policy. We would, however, suggest that cultivators and other residents in the rural areas may be allowed to graze their cattle to the extent of their requirements for agricultural purposes or for domestic milk consumption free of charge and all animals maintained over and above these requirements should be treated as part of a commercial enterprise and a fee for grazing at rates bearing a reasonable relation to the value of cattle produce should be levied.

21. There are considerable grazing lands still available in the areas under ryotwari settlements, usually known as village commons. These lands have for long been neglected and are subject to continuous soil erosion. Where suitable local agencies exist or can be created to undertake their management, rotational grazing should be introduced and these agencies assisted in the erection of enclosures. Where management of these areas by local bodies is not found feasible it may be better either to put them under village plantations or under cultivation rather than allow them to suffer further erosion and thus endanger cultivation in neighbouring cultivated areas.

Forest Administration

22. Although forests fall within the State Governments' sphere, in view of the important place of forest products in the national economy and for national defence it is necessary that the forest policies of State Governments in respect of development and conservation should be coordinated. At present, though the Inspector-General of Forests at the centre along with his staff is expected to discharge this function, he is not in a position to do so as the working plans of the States and subsequent deviations therefrom are not referred to him. We understand that in the past this was invariably done but later, it was given up. In our opinion, some measure of centralised coordination of working plans of the States is necessary. We recommend two measures. Firstly, the summary of the State Governments' prescriptions of working plans should be forwarded to the Inspector-General of Forests for scrutiny and comments. Secondly, periodical inter-state conferences should be organised on a regional basis to enable the forest officers of the State Governments responsible for the working plans in States to discuss their working plans and exchange ideas on technical matters. Adoption of these measures will promote the coordinated development of the forest resources of India.

Forests Research And Education

23. Very valuable work has been done in research on forests and forest products at the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun. Besides evolving methods for preserving timber and bamboos from attacks of pests and diseases, the Institute has played an important role in the establishment of industries for the production of paper, plywood, resin and turpentine, catechu, santonin from artemisia, ephedrin from ephedra, tamarind seed powder, rosa grass oil and several other commodities. There is, however, a considerable time lag between the research and its application. It appears necessary that a proper documentation office should be organised for putting the results of research in a form in which the public can understand them and that a closer liaison should be established between the Institute and the industries.

24. The three institutions where forest officers and forest rangers are trained are the Indian Forest College, Dehra Dun, the Indian Forest Rangers College, Dehra Dun and the Madras Forest College, Coimbatore. Their average annual output is 35, 70 arid 35 respectively. As stated earlier, a large area of private forests has vested in State Governments and for their proper management the need for trained staff will be greater. The Inspector-General of Forests should ascertain the requirements of all States over the next few years and make arrangements for the training of the required staff at these institutions. The need for a separate research centre in the South, which has special problems of its own, has long been felt and should receive attention.

Forest Tribes

25. Various tribes inhabit forest areas. Measures for their welfare form part of the programme for the advancement of the backward classes, described elsewhere, for which the Plan provides Rs. 28-9 crores. The bulk of the forest produce is collected through contractors who tend to exploit the tribesmen. Useful work has been done in Bombay in organising co-operatives of forest tribes to replace contractors. The number of such societies increased from n in 1947-48 to 58 in 1949-50. The value of forest produce handled by the cooperatives during 1949-50 rose to Rs. 17.94 lakhs. It should be the object of State policy throughout India to organise the tribes into co-operatives for the collection of forest produce, and for this a phased programme should be drawn up. Responsibility for organising them into co-operatives should be laid on the forest departments which should have co-operative staff on their establishments.

26. The shifting cultivation practised by some of the tribes has caused heavy damage to many forests. To wean them away from this practice will take»time and will not be easy. Gradually they have to be attracted to a settled and more intensive form of agriculture by providing them with opportunities for it and persuading them of its advantages. In some places it may be possible to settle them on cultivable land well away from the forests. In others it will be necessary to instruct them in the art of terraced cultivation and show them that more can be derived from the intensive cultivation of a few permanent fields in well-chosen localities where the slope is not too great than from periodic clearing and sowing of a whole mountain side. In some of the areas inhabited by these tribes fruit is grown by them on a small scale and with the improvement of communications and the introduction of better varieties this can be considerably developed. Generally speaking, the improvement of communications by opening up markets for agricultural and horticultural produce, will be a strong inducement to the tribes to abandon the wasteful system of shifting cultivation and take to settled agriculture.

27. The considerations on which the programme for the development of forests should be based have been outlined in the foregoing paragraphs. Priorities for particular items in any programme of development of forests may vary from region to region. In general these would be :

  1. strengthening the forest administration where large territories have been merged or private forests have been transferred to public ownership as a result of abolishing zamindari and jagirdari ;
  2. renovation of the areas which were over-exploited to meet war requirements ;
  3. afforestation where large scale soil erosion has occurred ;
  4. development of forest communications ;
  5. development of village plantations to ease the fuel supply pesition ; and
  6. stepping up supplies of timber by increased use of non-conventional species after proper seasoning and treatment by chemical methods and, therefore, increasing the number of seasoning kilns and treatment units.

28. Based on these priorities the state plans provided for the following expenditure in addition to Rs. 2 crores for Central schemes :

(Rs. in lakhs)

1. Forest Development 621-3
2. Administration 249-4
3. Forest industries 49-5
4. Education and training 39-3
5. Research 10-0
total 959-5

Forest development schemes include provision for the management and development of private forests and the waste lands vesting in State Governments besides Rs. 39 lakhs for soil conservation*, 29 lakhs for village plantations and Rs. 104 lakhs for development of communications.

*A further lump-sum provision ofRs. 2 crores has been made in the Plan for soil conservation. The agriculture programme also includes some schemes of soil conservation.

APPENDIX I Statement Showing Area Under Forests in Different Forest Regions of India (1949-50)

Region/State Total geographical area (ooo acres) Area under forests (ooo acres) Percentage of colm. 3 to colm. 2
1 2 3 4
Eastern Region—
Assam. 54,408 13,339 24-52
Bihar 45,011 9,043 20-09
Orissa 38,487 2,913 7-57
West Bengal 19,696 4,062 20-62
Manipur 5,5i8 1,440 26-10
Tripura 2,580 2,213 85-78
Andaman and Nicobar 2,058 1,600 77-74
total 167,758 34,610 20-63
North Western Regions—
Punjab 23,922 2,943 12.30
Uttar Pradesh 72,597 8,115 11.18
Jammu and Kashmir 59,379* 7,077 11.92
PEPSU 6,431 182 2-83
Rajasthan 83,327 8,180 9.82
Saurashtra 13,655 592 4.33
Ajmer 1,547 380 24.56
Bilaspur 290 128 44.14
Delhi 370    
Kutch 10,864 127 1.17
Himachal Pradesh 6,692 2,150 32.13
total 279,074 29,874 10.'70
Central Region—
Madhya Pradesh 83,375 26,181 31.40
Madhya Bharat 29.785 7,138 23.97
Bhopal 4,402 1,436 32.62
Vindhya Pradesh 15,104 4,937 32.69
total 132,666 39,692 29.92
Southern Region—
Bombay 71,213 13,097 18.39
Madras 81,786 2 184,4 22.55
Hyderabad 52,572 6,287 11.96
Mysore . 18,873 3,010 15-96
Travancore-Cochin 5,852 1,953 33.37
Coorg 1,015 740 72.91
total 231,311 47,529 18.82
indian union 810,809 147,705 18.22

•Includes enemy occupied area.

APPENDIX II Production and Availability of Fuel (1947-48)

State Production (ooo tons) Availability per capita per annum (in Ibs.)
Assam 148 34-8
Bihar 114 6-4
Bombay 985 6-2
Madhya Pradesh 1061 112-3
Madras 690 27-5
Orissa 96 14-7
Punjab 335 59-4
Uttar Pradesh 1229 40-4
West Bengal 302 27-6
Hyderabad 107 i3-i
Jammu and Kashmir 179 91-7
Mysore 308 77-5
Pepsu 5 3-2
Rajasthan N. A.  
Saurashtra 36 19-9
Travancore-Cochin i3i 32-3
Ajmer 6 19-7
Bhopal 10 26-9
Bilaspur N. A.  
Coorg . 7 70-3
Himachal Pradesh 16 36-4
Kutch N. A.  
Tripura 2 7*0
Vindhya Pradesh 8 5-0
The Andaman and Nicdbar Islands 2 4-5
total 577 35-6

Source : Indian Forest Statistics 1947-48. Conversion from cubic feet to tons has been done on the basis of 50 cubic feet to a ton.

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