Alternative policy of jhum cultivation in the pipeline: Minister Awangbow
Imphal: Forest, Environment and Climate Change Minister Awangbow Newmai on Saturday inspected the Kaziphung Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK) at Hungpung and Ukhrul Central VDVK, Rashing Hall at Awungtang in Ukhrul district. The Ministerial team also visited the Duncan Ecological Park, Somsai.
The Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Vikas Yojana which aims to transform the economy of tribal people in the State was launched in the State by Hon’ble Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on October 14, 2019. Under the scheme, the State Government will focus on collection, processing and value addition of non-timber forest products.
Manipur has 77 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs) comprising of 1,995 Self Help Groups (SHGs) and 23,259 beneficiaries. 8 VDVKs are in Noney district, 4 in Bishnupur district, 11 in Ukhrul district, 5 in Pherzawl district, 10 in Churachandpur district, 6 in Kamjong district, 3 in Tengnoupal district, 9 in Senapati district, 5 in Chandel district, 2 in Thoubal district, 1 in Imphal East district, 8 in Tamenglong district, 3 in Kangpokpi district and 2 in Jiribam district.
Addressing the gathering at the Kaziphung VDVK in Hungpung, Minister Awangbow Newmai announced that the Centre has agreed to open additional 100 VDVKs in the State. He also informed that the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED) will fund for the storage of the forest products and construction of hut bazaars in the border areas.
Stating that the State is working to find an alternative for jhum cultivation, he said a project will be prepared soon which will control jhum cultivation and find an alternative for people depending on the practice. Joint discussion between departments of Agriculture, Horticulture & Soil Conservation and Sericulture has already been initiated. He opined that clearing of the forest areas will have an adverse negative impact in the lives of the people of the State.
Stating that the department has undertaken various projects and few are under the pipeline in Ukhrul district, he said Duncan Ecological Park in Somsai is under progress, 11 VDVKs which is the biggest in the State with good progress report, projects to be covered in 3,500 hectares of land areas under the CAMPA scheme, 12 villages to be covered under the KMW (popularly known as German project), 925 hectares of land areas covered under the Green India Mission and 40 hectares of land areas under the National Bamboo Mission.
MH Khan, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest, Environment and Climate Change) said that there are 5 new projects in the pipeline for medicinal plant, bee keeping and others to be submitted to the Centre for fund allocation from the NEC and Ministry of Agriculture. He hoped that within a year, Manipur will get sizeable fund from the Centre.
He also stated that watershed development has lot of potential and that the department is going to prepare a project on watershed development and seek financial assistance from Central agencies or lateral agencies like ADB and World Bank among others.
He said the Government is committed for livelihood development and economic enhancement of all the people of the State especially in the hilly areas who are working in the forest area to make their life comfortable. He concluded his speech by stating that the Government cannot achieve anything without the co-operation of all the stakeholders living in the valley and the hills.
K. Angami, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Force (PCCF and HoFF) said that Forest Department is the nodal agency for implementing the scheme in the State. While in the district level, the Deputy Commissioner is the head and District Forest Officers (DFOs) are the chief executing officers which supervised the execution part, he added. The policy matter is taken up by the DC under a committee.
Each VDVK comprises of 15 Self Help Groups (SHGs) and each SHG consist of 20 members. Ukhrul has 11 VDVKs and total number of SHGs are 179 and number of beneficiaries comprising mainly women are 3,321. The fund allocated from Centre to the State Government is transferred to the DFO who uses the money in the ratio of 40:20:40 which comprises of training, giving payment for collection of the products from the forest and equipments. The SHGs members are given training by the master trainers, he added.
Stating that registration of another 100 VDVKs are under the process, he said that another new 16 VDVKs in Ukhrul district will be opened and another new 14 VDVKs in Kamjong district.
He said Manipur is number leading in the country but we need a policy to sustain so that SHGs members remain energetic and encouraged. TRIFED has agreed to do funding for making storage and construction of hut bazaars. He said from this year the department has enabled the SHG members to collect wild fruits and medicinal plants which can be made as products.
The function was also attended by K Leishiyo, Advisor to the CM and MLA Phunyar AC, Khashim Vashum, MLA Chingai, Alfred Kanngam Arthur, MLA Ukhrul, Yaransho Ngalung, ADC Chairman, Ukhrul, forest officers and staff among others.