Saw mills to resume functioning soon, says Dhumal

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Shimla, Apr 9 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today said all 393 saw mills in the state will soon be made functional following the decision of the Supreme Court-constituted Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to issue rules and guidelines for their registration.

Making a statement in the House, soon after the Question Hour, he said due to surplus of wood in forests and other non-forest areas, the Committee in its meeting, held on March 31, decided to initiate the process for their registration.

Mr Dhumal said the Committee had informed the state government of its decision, which will help in providing employment to people associated with the saw mills, besides generating additional income for them.

Of the 393 saw mills in the state, 318 alone were in Hamirpur district, 44 in Sirmaur, 28 in Shimla, two in Kangra and one in Kullu district, he said, adding that following their closure in 2005, several hundreds were rendered homeless in these five districts.

He said following the closure of the saw mills, the issue was raised with the CEC which in turn asked the State Forest Department to inform it about their total capacity and the availability of woods in the forests and non-forest areas of the state.

Following the query, the state forest department approached the Forest Survey of India (FSI) for survey, but after it expressed its unwillingness to carry out the work, the state government directed the forest department to carry out a survey on its own, the Chief Minister said.

Besides, the Principal Chief Conservator was also directed to follow up the issue to receive immediate positive response from the committee, he added.

The Chief Minister said the department submitted a report to the committee in February 2008, following a district-wise and species- wise survey of the trees in the state.

According to the data, 4.83 lakh square metre was available for saw mills and associated units every year, as against 3.80 crore capacity of the mills and associated units, he added.

Mr Dhumal also lauded the forest department officials and employees for their efforts.

UNI AS PS SBC HT1550

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