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Paper mills and biomass power producers in Tamil Nadu to clear trees uprooted by cyclone

According to reports, large industries, including paper mills, cement plants and biomass-based power generators, are set to chip in to clear uprooted trees in the areas affected by the Thane cyclone.

According to highly placed sources, at a meeting on Monday, leading paper mills including BILT, West Coast Paper Mills, Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd and Seshasayee Paper and Boards have expressed support to the idea of lifting pulp wood, from the casuarina plantations destroyed in Cuddalore and neighbouring areas in the Thane cyclone last December.

Estimates of the amount of wood that needs to be cleared before the farmers can hope to re-establish plantations – including casuarina, cashew and other horticultural crops – ranges from about 50 lakh tonnes to about twice that number.

Casuarina is an ideal pulp wood material and the paper mills, coordinated by the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd, are to take the wood. The State Government has urged the industry to treat it as a Corporate Social Responsibility to support the affected farmers who are being exploited by private trade.

The paper mills are likely to take at least a few thousand tonnes of wood daily as a part of this move, sources in the know said. This will help farmers with some remuneration while helping with clearing the fields. The details of the system including depots or collection centres to be set up and the quantity of wood to be taken by the paper mills are to be finalised soon.

However, wood from cashew trees is resinous and cannot be used as pulp wood. The State Government has sought the support of biomass-based independent power producers and hopes to bring in cement plants which have huge kilns, where firewood can be used, to help in clearing the timbre. At least a portion of the fire wood could be blended with the cashew trees by these industries, said the source.

The first round of discussions was held on Monday and industries have reacted positively to the move.

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