The Telegraph
Saturday , August 23 , 2014
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Masterplan to rehabilitate tribals

- 50000 forestland allottees have benefitted, 71000 more to benefit

Agartala, Aug. 22: The Tripura government is preparing a detailed masterplan to ensure proper rehabilitation of tribals who have been allotted land under the Right to Forest Act, 2006.

The plan is being prepared to rehabilitate the land allottees through animal husbandry, fishery, agriculture, horticulture and utilisation of forest resources. Since the Right to Forest Act became a law by central legislation in 2006, Tripura government has allotted forestland to 1.21 lakh tribal families but because of lack of proper rehabilitation plans, the allotted land is not being properly utilised to create wealth and livelihood.

“The land has been allotted but their utilisation for rehabilitation is more important. A total of 1.72 lakh hectares of land allotted so far could create wealth and solve the livelihood problem but this has not happened so far,” said Aghore Debbarma, minister for tribal welfare and senior CPM leader.

Debbarma said the state government had sent a project of Rs 440 crore to the central government for rehabilitation of tribal land allottees in forest areas but the plan has not yet been sanctioned.

“Central sanction to the rehabilitation project is yet to be given but we are moving ahead on our own to rehabilitate the tribals on forest land. Most of the land allottees are poor tribal shifting cultivators who need financial support and training for utilising the land given them. The state government will do that and that is why a master plan is being prepared,” said Debbarma.

He said the state government has already helped 50,000 tribal families settle down through animal husbandry, fisheries, agriculture and horticulture. The remaining more than 71,000 families will also be rehabilitated through the plan. Debbarma said poultry farming, meat and milk production could also be effective means of rehabilitating the families but threat of occasional outbreaks of bird flu was standing in the way of implementing the plan.

He said apart from providing means of livelihood to the tribal families, the state government’s main aim was to wean the tribals off the “environmentally disastrous” shifting cultivation.

“To that extent we have already achieved great success. If we can rehabilitate the remaining families in the already allotted land there will be no shifting cultivation in Tripura,” said Debbarma.

Reacting to criticism over destruction of the state’s forest cover because of the allotment of forestland to tribals, Debbarma said steps were being taken to protect the forest cover.

“Under the Right to Forest Act, destruction of forest cover is not allowed. Utilisation of the land is only permitted for productive purposes. Besides, we have already put restrictions on rubber monoculture. This is protecting the forest cover,” said Debbarma, adding that the criticism was misplaced.

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