The Planning Commission set up a Working Group to examine the prospects of leasing out of degraded forests to the private entrepreneurs/ Forest Corporations. The terms of reference for the Group were:-
· Economic, social and environmental feasibility of leasing or otherwise making degraded forest land to the
private entrepreneurs/ Forest Corporations.
· Implication of Ninth Plan, forest policy, forest law on this issue.
Since it is paper and pulp industry which has been demanding forest lands on lease either directly or via the Forest Development Corporations (FDCs), we essentially considered the merits of making degraded forests available to the paper industry for meeting their raw material needs. The concept prima facie is quite appealing; government has wastelands but lacks funds, industry has both capital and technology, and hence best suited to afforest degraded lands. In the process the poor get jobs. So why should one object?
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The Indus Valley civilization, one of the world's oldest, flourished during the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C. and extended into northwestern India. Aryan tribes from the northwest infiltrated the Indian subcontinent about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier Dravidian inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. The Maurya Empire of the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. - which reached its zenith under ASHOKA - united much of South Asia. The Golden Age ushered in by the Gupta dynasty (4th to 6th centuries A.D.) saw a flowering of Indian science, art, and culture.
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