The Forests and Railway Fuel Supply

  • Pallavi V. Das


A resolution of the Home Department, Government of India, noted the following on deforestation taking place in northern India:

The attention of the Government has been directed to the partial denudation of trees that has of late years been taking place in some parts of the Upper Provinces and particularly in the tract known as the Doab, to meet the large demand of the East India Railway for wood-fuel. The consumption of wood has been, and is, going on at a rapid pace while little if anything is being done to supply its place.1

The above denudation of the forests took place in the NWP and Oudh due to the heavy firewood demand of the railways. When railway construction began in colonial India, the initial railway demand from the forests was mainly for sleepers or ties. However by the mid-1860s, as the railways started operating, another demand developed in the form of firewood for railway fuel. This demand further contributed to the exhaustion of forests in colonial India.


Forest Conservation Forest Department Railway Line Fuel Supply Railway Company 
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  1. 9.
    Although the species used as firewood varied from district to district, the palmyrah (Borassus flabelliformis), the babul (Acacia arabica), and punga (Pongamia glabra) were some of the species mmonly used as firewood. See H. F. Cleghorn, The Forests and Gardens of South India (London: W. H. Allen, 1861).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© Pallavi V. Das 2015

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  • Pallavi V. Das

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