Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir administration has launched a project to convert pine needles into bio-briquettes using advanced technology.
Pine forests account for 16.40 percent of the total wooded area in J&K. In summers, the shedding of dry needles forms a thick mat on the ground which not only affects the growth of regeneration, but due to the slow rate of decomposition, the needles sometimes easily catch fire, causing unaccountable damage to the environment.
To tackle this problem, pine needle material is being used to create eco-friendly bio-briquettes. Bio-briquettes are a biofuel substitute for coal and charcoal mostly made of green waste.
Rakesh Verma, Range Officer at Nowshera Forest Division, Jammu told The Kashmir Monitor that IIT Roorkee has designed a manual, eco-friendly, and green machine which is being introduced in Nowshera Forest Division for making the Chir needle briquettes.
“It requires no binding material and is hand driven especially designed for women. 100 grams of crushed pine needles makes 80 grams of briquettes and the whole process takes only 80 seconds,” Verma said.
He added, these briquettes can be used for cooking and heating purposes and can be easily sold out at the rate of Rs12-15/kg. “Even aromatic briquettes were tried with these machines using Eucalyptus leaves, Vitex negundo, etc. and their selling cost is around 80-100/Kg,” Verma said.
The officer said that the department has reached out to communities to sensitize them about the pilot project and to seek their participation as potential micro-entrepreneurs especially targeting the local young population, women, and SC/ST communities.
“Building capacities of locals is being conducted through training sessions, structured, awareness programs, and outreach while introducing bio-briquette machines and their functioning to villagers,” Verma said.
He added the collection of Chir Pine needles is being done mostly from the areas sensitive to the forest fire in the Nowshera Forest Division by the locals. “This in turn helps them utilize the same for the production of bio-briquette machines.”__Kashmir Monitor