1. Territorial Functions :
Total management of the forests of Kalimpong Division has been leased out to the WBFDCL since 2.11.1974. Kalimpong Division (438 sq. km) is the largest territorial division in North Bengal. The Corporation is responsible for all the territorial functions in this Division including protection of forests and wildlife, afforestation, infrastructure development and administration of forest villages and Forest Protection Committees. There are 64 FPCs with over 3900 members in Kalimpong Division. The forests are managed as per the working plan approved by the Central Government. There is also a Supreme Court order restricting clear-felling of mature plantations to 500 mt altitude and thinning of older plantations to 1000 mt altitude. There is a total prohibition on felling of natural forests.
Kalimpong Division used to be the highest revenue-earning division of the WBFDCL in the past. But due to highly volatile political climate of the Darjeeling hills, it has become difficult and uneconomic to manage Kalimpong Division. A number of office buildings, staff quarters, eco-tourism centers and other infrastructure in Kalimpong Division suffered heavy damages on 8.2.2011 during a political agitation. Steps have been initiated for re-construction of the damaged buildings and infrastructure.
The WBFDCL holds the view that for administrative efficiency, all territorial divisions should be under the direct control of the Forest Directorate. In March 2010, the Board of Directors recommended to the State Government that the area under lease with the WBFDCL be reduced to 100.66 sq. km (all forest areas below 500 mt. altitude) and all territorial responsibilities be returned to the Forest Directorate along with proportionate staff. Approval of the State Government is still awaited.
2. Harvesting and Marketing of Timber :
The WBFDCL arranges for harvesting of timber and firewood from the forests in North Bengal as well as South Bengal on agency basis for the Forest Directorate and disposes of the same through auctions and tenders. The harvesting is done strictly according to the working plans approved by the Central Government. The revenue is deposited with the Forest Directorate. Part of the revenue is shared with the members of the FPCs in accordance with the directives of the State Government. The WBFDCL also supplies pulpwood to the paper mills and mining timber to the coal companies from the forests of South Bengal in accordance with directions of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (W.B.) and at rates fixed by the Forest Department. The WBFDCL has also been undertaking harvesting and marketing of timber occasionally on behalf of various institutions and agencies like the Botanical Garden, the Railways, the NHPC, Tea Estates, etc.
During the year 2011-12, gross sale value of timber sold by the WBFDCL in auctions was Rs.106.61 Cr as against Rs. 83.90 Cr during the year 2010-11. During the same period, the WBFDCL paid a royalty of Rs. 49.48 Cr to the Forest Directorate as against Rs. 45.30 Cr during the previous year.
3. Saw Mills & Sale of Sawn Timber :
The WBFDCL runs 4 Saw Mills at Siliguri (Govt. Saw Mills Division), Salugara (Kurseong Logging Division), Bhuttabari (Kalimpong Division) and Madarihat (Saw Milling Division). The timber for sawing at these Saw Mills (except Bhuttabari) is allotted by the Forest Directorate every year at a rate approved by the Forest Department. But the allotted timber is usually below the actual requirement. The Saw Mills have also been permitted to accept private jobs to reduce the idle period. The WBFDCL has a timber treatment plant and a wood-seasoning unit at Salugara. Steps are being taken to modernize these units.
The WBFDCL sells sawn timber to public through 9 (nine) Sale Centres: Siliguri, Raiganj, Saltlake, Durgapur, Midnapur, Purulia, Kalimpong Darjeeling and Kurseong. The WBFDCL also sells sawn timber through authorized dealers (54 at present) located in different parts of the state. But the sale of sawn timber is restricted due to the scarcity of round timber at the Saw Mills.
4. Joinery and Carpentry Units :
The WBFDCL is running 5 (five) Joinery and Carpentry Units at Madarihat, Siliguri, Raiganj (started during 2010-11), Saltlake and Durgapur. The WBFDCL has supplied furniture for the proposed Circuit Bench of High Court at Jalpaiguri, New Circuit House (Golpark, Kolkata), Yuva Bharati Krirangan (Saltlake), Bhutanese Consulate General (Kolkata), Netaji Institute of Consumer Affairs (Chinsura), etc. The WBFDCL is planning to set up some more Joinery and Carpentry Units in other parts of the State.
5. Cashew Plantations :
The WBFDCL had raised cashew plantations during 1984-85 over 1566 ha of barren forest land provided the Forest Directorate in Paschim Medinipur district. The plantations are over-mature and their productivity is going down. In March 2010, the Board of Directors recommended gradual replacement of cashew-nut plantations with quick-growing pulpwood species. The effective area under cashew plantations at present is 1173 ha.
6. Quick-Growing Pulpwood Species :
The Board of Directors has approved a 10-year Project (2010-11 to 2019-20) worth Rs.6.57 Cr for raising high quality Eucalyptus and other pulpwood species by replacing the over-mature cashew plantations. The WBFDCL has so far raised clonal plantations over 184 ha in South-West Bengal. In view of the shortage of planting material, the Corporation has initiated steps to set up a high-tech clonal nursery in Paschim Medinipur district. The WBFDCL also has 102 ha of old clonal plantations in its possession.
The WBFDCL procures honey from the FPC members of the Sundarbans and markets it after refinement under the brand name of MOUBAN. The WBFDCL collects 25-35 MT of honey every year.
8. Non-Timber Forest Products and Medicinal Plants :
The functional control of the Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) Division was transferred by the Forest Directorate to the WBFDCL during 2009-10. In June 2010, the Board of Directors approved a 6-year Project (2009-10 to 2014-15) costing Rs. 3.56 Cr for promoting Citronella, Turmeric and various medicinal plants in North Bengal. Citronella grass and turmeric are grown as inter-crops in the forestry plantations with the help of forest villagers and FPC members.
The NTFP Division runs a manufacturing unit at Taipu (near Bagdogra) for producing herbal drugs and other products. It also runs distillation plants for producing Citronella oil at Nilpara, Khuntimari and Targhera. The WBFDCL and the NTFP Division sell Citronella oil, turmeric powder and many other herbal products through various sale-centres in the State under the brand name BANAJA. The NTFP Division also procures Kalmegh cultivated by the FPC members in Rupnarayan Division (Paschim Medinipur). The NTFP Division maintains a Museum and a Demonstration Centre at Sukna about 10 km from Siliguri.
The WBFDCL has also announced support price for 2011-12 in respect of 10 medicinal plants collected by the FPC members in Paschim Medinipur and Bankura districts. These include Kalmegh, Gurmar, Aswagandha, Tulsi, Amlaki, Haritaki, Bahera, Maha Bhringraj, Neem and Bel. It has also initiated a project for setting up brood-lac farms in Purulia district during 2011-12 with financial support from the Paschim Anchal Unnayan Department, Govt. of West Bengal.
9. Eco-tourism :
The WBFDCL runs 20 eco-tourism resorts, 17 in North Bengal and 3 in South Bengal, in the following districts:
Darjeeling: Lepchajagat, Kalimpong, Lava, Lolegaon, Rangpo, Mongpong, Gorubathan, Samsing, Suntlekhola, Jaldhaka and Paren.
Jalpaiguri: Murti, Barodabri (Malungi), Rajabhatkhawa and Rangamati.
Coochbehar: Rasikbil and Gosanimari.
Purulia: Garhpanchkot and Duarsini.
The eco-tourism resorts at Lolegaon, Gorubathan, Samsing, Jaldhaka and Paren (all in Darjeeling district) suffered heavy damages on 8.2.2011 during the political turmoil. The eco-tourism resort at Duarsini (Purulia) has been lying defunct due to the Maoist problem in the region. The resort at Gosanimari (Coochbehar) has been damaged due to a cyclone while that at Rangpo (Darjeeling) was damaged in an earthquake during 2011-12. Action to revive the defunct eco-resorts has been initiated. To make up for the eco-tourism capacity thus lost, the WBFDCL has set up tented accommodation at Jaldhaka and Suntlekhola (Kalimpong Division) and Rangamati (Buxa Tiger Reserve) during 2011-12 which are a hit with the visitors. At present, only 14 Eco-resorts of the WBFDCL (North Bengal:12, South Bengal:2) with 301 beds (North Bengal:229 beds, South Bengal:72 beds) are available for tourists. The WBFDCL also runs a ropeway for tourists at Darjeeling in collaboration with M/S Conveyor & Ropeway Services Private Limited. A Museum maintained by the NTFP Division at Sukna near Siliguri is also a great attraction for the tourists.
The WBFDCL collaborated with the W.B. Tourism Development Corporation for preparing projects for circuit tourism in Kalimpong (Darjeeling) and Ayodhya Pahar (Purulia) and rural tourism in Purulia district during 2010-11. The WBFDCL has also undertaken a project for promoting destination tourism in Buxa Tiger Reserve during 2011-12 with a financial support of Rs. 2.44 Cr received from the Govt. of India through the Tourism Department of Govt. of West Bengal. The WBFDCL has also experimented with conducted tours in the Sundarbans during 2010-11 and 2011-12 with encouraging results. The WBFDCL has also joined hands with 4 private resort-owners in North Bengal to cater to the increasing demand from the tourists.
The WBFDCL actively engages the members of the FPCs and EDCs in running its resorts, particularly in arranging catering and transport facilities for the tourists. They are employed as tourist-guides. In some resorts, the local people organise cultural programme for the tourists. They also run small shops on the fringe of the resorts and sell local handicrafts to the tourists as souvenirs.
West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Limited
KB19 Sector-III, Salt Lake, Kolkata - 700098
Ph No. : 033 23350064 / 033 23358320
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