As part of its efforts to improve lives of the weaker sections of society, Tripura has given land rights to more than one lakh tribal families under the landmark Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
Claiming this as 'unique' in the country, an official of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomus District Council said the government was making special efforts to improve lives of the state's poor tribals by giving them land rights and taking up educational and economic schemes.
"This is unique. The state has been in the forefront of implementation of the Forest Rights Act. This is a major initiative for the development of tribals in the state,” Ranjit Debbarma, chief executive member of the TTADC, said.
The government initiative has brought cheer to the lives of tribals like Shambhu Charan Debbarma who till the other day earned his livelihood by doing shifting cultivation.
A nonagenerian, Debbarma, who lives with his family at this hill top hamlet falling under the TTAADC, is now a full-fledged cultivator and owner of an orchard.
He was given patta of six bighas in a forest under the act where he grew lemon trees with the tribal council coming to his aid.
Till July, 2012, government land has been allotted to about 97,827 families and IAY houses has been provided to about 2.06 lakhs families, Debbarma said.
Village chairman Uttam Debbarma said 27 families were given patta under the scheme, of which 20 families were given Rs. 48,500 under the Indira Abas Yojna for construction of houses.
Another inhabitant of the village said, “The village was a part of the forest where wild animals roamed freely just 10 years ago.
"Now there are motorable roads and villagers are getting regular jobs under NREGA and other income-generating schemes”, he said.
State forest minister Jiten Chowdhury said the state government had chosen 62 sites in different parts of the state to resettle tribals with all modern amenities.
“When the insurgency was at its peak, we set up villages in forests named as 'Forest Village' since 2003 and settled 1,508 people belonging to 236 tribal families who were shifting cultivators living in remote areas," Chowdhury said.
Chowdhury said slash and burn method used in shifting cultivation led to soil erosion and environmental pollution.