Palash is the State flower of Jharkhand. These flame-red flowers are a unique identity of Palamu forest. Due to the effect of LWE activities and drought, deforestation of these Palash forests has increased in the last 2-3 decades. For example, Kundari Lac Bagaan, spread over 421 acres, was once considered to be one of the largest Lac forests of Asia, but at present this dense forest had been reduced to scattered patches of only 60,000 Palash trees and 100 Kusum trees.
The Kundari Lac Bagaan was picked as the first part of the forest conservation project in 2017. The intervention aimed at increasing the total plantation area of Palash and Kusum trees. Palash flowers can be used to produce organic gulaal (Dry Holi colour). The District Collector along with the local population has initiated plantation drive of Palash trees. Also, to increase afforestration, the initiative has been linked to the livelihood of the local population. The intervention has resulted in cultivation of Lac Bihan (cultivation) with 20,500 Palash Trees by October 2017 (last counting), as well as establishment of innovative Herbal Gulaal manufacturing units. The unit is providing livelihood to thousands of women, and is in turn encouraging them to conserve and regenerate these forests. Cultivation of the Lac & Herbal Gulaal processing from dry Palash flowers were done under the technical supervision of IINRG (Indian Institute of Natural Resins and Gums), Namkum, Ranchi.
On the human-resource mobilisation front, the Forest Department has formed 27 Joint Forest Management (JFM) committees for conservation and regeneration of this Lac Bagaan. This is being aided by a local cooperative society having 405 members. Members of Sakhi Mandal (SHGs) in the whole district have been motivated and trained for Lac production and Palash flower conservation during the months of February and March for the production of Herbal Gulaal.
The initiative has led to Lac Bihan (cultivation) of the 20,500 Palash Trees by October 2017 (last counting). In the manufacturing units set up, Herbal Gulaal is being produced by grinding the dry Palash flowers. Since the processing unit has been established on 10th May 2017, around 400 kgs of Gulaal has been produced. In the first batch of production, 4000 packets (50/100 gms per packet) of these Gulaal packets were produced on pilot basis and these were supplied to JHASCOLAMPS for market linkage. This received great response from the consumers and has thus encouraged in more production which would further motivate the local population to plant more trees.
Presently, Sakhi Mandal (SHGs) are working under the supervision of Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) under NRLM. All of them have already been linked with bank credit, and this number is continually growing. Also, the conservation of the forest has also led to replenishment of ground water. Therefore, this initiative has helped the districts on several fronts.
Source : Aspirational Districts for WEB