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Uttarakhand Launches ‘Pirul Lao-Paise Pao’ Campaign to Combat Forest Fires

The Uttarakhand government has launched the ‘Pirul Lao-Paise Pao’ campaign to contain the raging forest fires in the state. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami launched the campaign in the Rudraprayag district on May 8, 2024. He urged the people to actively participate in the campaign and stated that cooperatives, Yuva Mangal Dal, and Van Panchayat would also take part.

Collecting Pine Leaves for Incentives

Under the ‘Pirul Lao-Paise Pao’ campaign, local youth and villagers will collect dry Pirul (Pine tree leaves) from the forests and take them to designated Pirul collection centers. The Tehsildar, under the supervision of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, will manage these centers.

The collected Pirul will be weighed, and the villagers or youth will be paid Rs 50 per kg, with the amount directly transferred to their bank accounts. The collected Pirul will be packed, processed, and sold to industries for further use.

Significance of Pirul Collection

In Uttarakhand, Pirul refers to Pine tree leaves, which have been traditionally used as bedding for domestic animals, as fertilizer when mixed with cow dung, and for packaging fruits. However, due to their excellent burning capacity, they pose a significant fire threat in Pine forests.

The Uttarakhand government has established a 25-kilowatt power plant in the Chakori Dhanari village of the Uttarkashi district, which uses Pirul as a raw material to produce electricity. The state produces an estimated 23 lakh metric tonnes of Pirul annually, with the potential to generate about 200 megawatts of electricity.

Campaign Oversight and Funding

The Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board has been designated to oversee the ‘Pirul Lao-Paise Pao’ Campaign, operating the Pirul collection centers, storing, and processing the collected material. The state government has allocated Rs 50 crore for the campaign, from which the collectors of Pirul will be paid.

Addressing Forest Fire Risks

Pine leaves, known as Chaita in the local language, are highly inflammable when dry and are considered a significant cause of spreading fires in the forest. By collecting these leaves from the forest area, the risk of fires can be reduced.

Forest Cover in Uttarakhand

According to the Indian State of the Forest Report 2021, the total recorded forest area in Uttarakhand is 24,305 square kilometers, covering 45.44% of the state’s geographical area. The state has 5,055 square kilometers of very dense forests, 12,768 square kilometers of moderately dense forests, and 6,482 square kilometers of open forests.

Pine trees were introduced in the region by the British and are now abundant in districts like Almora, Bageshwar, Chamoli, Champawat, Dehradun, Garhwal, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag, Tehri, and Uttarkashi.

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