In a move to use pine needles for employment generation, the Uttarakhand government announced a special policy in Dehradun on Thursday. The state cabinet gave approval to the policy of power generation through pine needles and other biomass.

Pine needles cause big loss to Uttarakhand forest annually, by helping forest fire spread. Under the new policy hill state based voluntary organizations, firms and companies can operate local community based units to set up 10 to 250 kilowatt power generation units in different parts of the state.

Under the new policy, pine needles will be used for commercial use. Besides use for power generation, bio-oil extraction plan and briquette making units will be established. Besides helping in controlling forest fire, the use of pine needles will provide jobs to thousands of villagers.

Uttarakhand government spokespersons and cabinet minister Madan Kausik said, “Under the new policy about 6000 new units will be established, which will provide direct and indirect employment to about 60,000 persons. This move will also help in controlling migration from hill to plain.”

According to Uttarakhand government’s assessment the cost of setting up each 25 kilowatt unit will be around Rs 25 lakh. Each unit will receive support from the central government. The unit can produce power and charcoal.

All the governments, which were voted to power in Uttarakhand, constantly advocated about using pine needles for commercial use. But, none of the government ever did anything practical on ground.

Pine needles continue to create problem in the hills, by causing mass destruction to forest and wildlife. Trivendra Rawat government to make the pine needle based units

economically viable. Otherwise the concept will look perfect on paper but practically will turn into white elephant.