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Rs 2500cr grant to weed out jhum
- Mizo govt gives priority to farming

Silchar, Aug. 5: The Centre, after keeping the Lalthanhawla-led Congress government in Mizoram on tenterhooks for some months about its approval to the state government’s new farming scheme as well as the land use policy, has at last given its nod.

The scheme, christened Intodelhna or new land use policy, aims at eliminating the wasteful and environment-unfriendly jhum farming method, still ruling the dominant method of cultivation in the hills of Mizoram.

Chief minister Lalthanhawla, who is now in New Delhi, said the Planning Commission was considering the grant of of Rs 2,500 crore over the next five years to replacing jhum cultivation in the vast rural areas and instead provide a new thrust to horticulture development.

The chief minister said horticulture and floriculture on the hill slopes in the state would be tailor made to improve the economy of average Mizos. He added that the consumers in the country could easily lap up their products.

Lalthanhawla said he had a detailed talk on Monday in New Delhi with the top officials of the Planning Commission on the annual plan outlay for Mizoram in this fiscal, which has been finalised at Rs 1,250 crore, an all-time high grant.

The Centre has made available the annual plan assistance of Rs 3,800 crore in the period between 2004 and 2005 and 2008 and 2009 to Mizoram, whose population is 9.5 lakh.

The chief minister quoted Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia as having said that the Mizoram government should give priority to the public-private partnership in all the key sectors of economy in Mizoram, particularly in its horticulture sector where the state has immense potential.

The chief minister said while upgrading the state’s still rudimentary horticulture sector, the priority would be farming as well as processing of pineapples, ginger and squash, whose output in the state is now on an upswing.

The cultivation of grapes and passion fruit is now being slowly made popular as a cash-spinning venture in the state. Lalthanhawla also said a three-tier monitoring at the state, district and village level would be introduced to keep an eye on the execution of this farming and rural development projects.

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