The West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC) apprehends a huge loss in the next few months as demonetisation would affect the auctioning of logs that mainly takes place in winter.
WBFDC is one of the few undertaking companies of the Bengal government that never incurred loss since its inception.
The state government undertaking, that had started functioning in 1974, has already incurred a loss of 1.31 lakh due to cancellation of booking of resorts run by it at different tourist spots in both North and South Bengal districts after demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was announced.
Now WBFDC authorities apprehend that they would incur a huge loss in the auctioning of logs.
Udayan Guha, Chairman of WBFDC, said: “The system of auctioning is such that it is not possible to go for cashless payment right at this moment. The money has to be paid in cash soon after the auction is over. It seems that the value of logs would not go up much in the forthcoming auctions due to cash crunch and it would leave an effect on the state’s exchequer.”
According to an official of WBFDC, felling of trees in the forests, both in North and South Bengal districts, take place in the dry season. Mid-October to March is the time that is preferred to take up the work of felling of trees.
The officials said that the felling of certain trees in forests is essential for better growth of other trees in the surrounding.
Senior officials of the state forest department earmark trees which need to be cut down. Moreover, trees which grow too old and may get uprooted at any point of time also get marked for felling.
Trees also need to be cut down in a particular area if the forest department plans plantation of any new species of trees right at the same area.
WBFDC engage workers for felling of trees which are send to saw mills for converting tree trunks into logs. The logs are, subsequently, auctioned. WBFDC carry out the entire task from felling of trees to auctioning.
The total turnout of the development corporation in 2014-15 fiscal was Rs 200 crore and the profit after tax was Rs 13.5 crore. WBFDC had made a profit of around Rs 11 crore in 2013-14 fiscal.
The figure shows that the increase in net profit of the corporation in a year is around Rs 2.5 crore. Guha said that in 2015-16 fiscal, the profit of the development corporation was around Rs 40 crore.
He apprehended that demonetisation would leave an impact on the profit margin and the net profit would drop.
He further said that this is the first time when booking of resorts worth Rs 1.85 lakh were cancelled. For cancelling a booking, one needs to give a penalty.
Thus, Rs 54,000 of the total amount was deducted and the rest Rs 1.31 lakh was returned to the people who had booked the resorts.
Besides the loss of the development corporation, local people whose business depends on the visit of the tourists also get affected as there will be only a handful number of tourists in those areas in this winter season.
At present there are arrangements for accommodation for 260 people at a time in 91 nature resorts of WBFDC at 18 different eco-tourism spots in the state.