Debate rages over curing wood use in Karnataka

| January 13, 2016

More than 300 ha of forest are lost annually in the Indian state of Karnataka to tobacco curing, which devours an estimated 700,000 tons of fuel-wood, according to a story by Meera Bhardwaj for the New Indian Express.

Recent studies are said to have indicated that about eight kg of fuel-wood is required to cure one kg of tobacco.

The burden that tobacco placed on the environment was enormous and there was a need for immediate action, M Mahesh of the Karnataka Swaraj Jana Sangatan party, was quoted as saying.

“There is no control on cutting down of trees be it in forest or private lands in Hunsur, Periyapatna and other areas,” he said. In fact, the situation is alarming with trees being cut every day while reforestation is happening only on paper. The Forest Department is hand in glove with farmers even as they refuse to switch over to other methods of curing as they feel it is too expensive.”

But the principal chief conservator of forest Vinay Luthra doubted the figures given. “At this rate, forests would have completely vanished,” he said. “[A] Large amount of fuel wood comes from private lands while we do supply them Eucalyptus and Acacia wood from our depots that are in Mysuru, Periyapatna and other areas.

“In fact, we do not support this method of tobacco curing as the Indian Institute of Science has developed special chullahs [stoves] for curing tobacco which uses 20 per cent less firewood than normal chullahs.”

Luthra said, however, that there was a need to educate farmers and to launch awareness programs aimed at switching farmers from tobacco to food crops.

Category: Breaking News

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