Collection of tendu leaves, mainly used to roll bidis, has been made more lucrative as the Madhya Pradesh government has raised the collection rates by Rs 100 per sack. “The state cabinet today decided to raise the tendu leaves collection rates from Rs 550 per standard sack to Rs 650 per standard sack. Since 2003 the government has doubled the collection rates in the interest of the poor,”cabinet minister in the state government Narottam Misrhra said. The state cabinet has also decided to pay salaries in accordance with the Sixth Pay Commission or revised pay scale to the university and college staff with effect from January 2006. The arrears will be paid at a later state after a sanction and disbursement of grant from the Centre.
The superannuation age of classroom teaching staff has been raised from 62 to 65 while the same has been raised from 65 to 70 for vice-chancellors of the universities.
Madhya Pradesh is the largest tendu leaves producer and feeds the Rs 250 crore bidi industry besides providing seasonal jobs to people of the tribal-dominated areas. Tendu is a wild plant and it grows in forests only.
This is for the fourth consecutive time when the state government has raised collection rates of tendu leaves. Although the government has planned to even cultivate tendu (botanically known as Diospyros melonoxylon), the business has never been lucrative due to interference of middlemen, heavy taxation on bidi and poor management of collected leaves.
“In order to ensure better crop and provide jobs in tribal dominated areas we are planning to develop techniques so that tendu can be grown in rural areas through modern transplantation techniques,” a senior official in the MP Minor Forest Produce Trading and Cooperative Limited said.
The state government has roped in Jabalpur-based Forest Research Institute to come up with a breakthrough in this regard.
In another decision the state government has decided to set up a separate department for alternate source of energy or non-conventional energy department. At present the department is an arm of the state power department.