Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hic and fine

March 13, 2008

H/l: Medicinal liquor coming your way
Intro: …so are soaps, oils and cattle feed, courtesy the mahua flower that state produces

From: Vrushali Lad

Mumbai: At a time when the state is focussing on creating a booming grape wine industry for potential export, CM Vilasrao Deshmukh is about to add cheer to Maharashtra’s plans with a great new addition – Herbal Liquor – courtesy the mahua flower that is produced in huge quantities here.

Responding to a Calling Attention Motion moved by MLAs Nana Patole and others, who demanded to know why the state was not putting the over 3.35 crore mahua trees’ produce to good use, Deshmukh said, “This is an untapped territory, but we will shortly put together a scheme under which we can establish wineries using seeds to produce liquor, and set up units to produce soaps and oils using the mahua flowers.”

He added that this would benefit the tribal belts and unemployed especially in areas like Vidarbha, where the mahua trees grow in abundance.

Earlier, responding to the Motion, forest minister Babanrao Pachpute had extolled the virtues of the mahua trees. “With over 3.35 crore mahua trees, the state produces 50,000 tonnes of flowers and 20,000 seeds. One kilogram of mahua flowers gives 320 ml of liquor, which is healthy and herbal in nature,” he said.

He added that the flowers can also be used in making soaps and perfumed oils, so that those are two other industries that the government may consider.

Deshmukh explained that the government would work towards bringing the mahua flower business under one common programme, which would oversee everything from collection to manufacture of allied products. Legislators have been urged to meet him on the issue and offer inputs.

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