Bhubaneswar, Jan 30:
In a significant move, the Odisha government today decided to reduce forest development tax on kendu leaves to benefit nine lakh kendu leaf pluckers in the state.
The decision to reduce the forest development tax on kendu leaves sales from the present 16% to 2% was taken at the kendu leaf advisory board meeting chaired by the chief minister here at the state secretariat on Thursday.
“Profit from the reduction in the forest development tax on kendu leaves sales will be distributed among kendu leaf pluckers equally benefiting around 9 lakh of them in the state,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told reporters after the meeting.
Patnaik hoped that the sharing of profits as a result of the reduction in the tax and other charges by the poor kendu leaf pluckers will make them shareholders in the kendu leaf business leading to their empowerment.
The Odisha government earns around Rs 420 crore from kendu leaf trade. The reduction in the tax will lead to a profit of Rs 100 crore, said sources in the government.
The chief minister directed the Forest department to accelerate the process of formulating service conditions for seasonal kendu leaf workers. The meeting also deliberated on including seasonal kendu leaf workers in the welfare fund scheme, said official sources.