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Famine in 265 Manipur villages

Mizoram's nightmare has come to haunt Manipur. Famine stalks around 265 villages in Churachandpur district, bordering Mizoram, where the flowering of a particular form of bamboo has spelt devastation, reports Sobhapati Samom.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2008 00:11 IST
Sobhapati Samom

Mizoram's nightmare has come to haunt Manipur. Famine stalks around 265 villages in Churachandpur district, bordering Mizoram, where the flowering of a particular form of bamboo has spelt devastation.

This species, Melocanna Baciferra, (known in Mizoram as mautam, or the 'bamboo of death') flowers only once in 48- 50 years, but when it does, the consumption of those flowers greatly increases the fertility of rats. Armies of rats then invade the fields and eat up the standing crop as well.

Mizoram, which was expecting the impending calamity, has been tackling it valiantly for the past year, but unprepared Churachandpur's villages have lately been reduced to starvation. Around 16,000 acres of standing crop have been damaged, affecting over 1 lakh people, according to the district administration.

“Though the centre has sanctioned Rs 16.9 crore for relief, none of it has reached the district,” said K. Moi, Secretary, Zomi Economic Planning and Development

Unceasing rain and landslides have compounded the problem. "Parts of the district have been cut off from the rest of the county, and relief cannot reach," said Moi.

The last such famine — and the callous neglect of the famine stricken — in the early 1960s sparked off insurgency in Mizoram, with the Mizo National Famine Front, originally an NGO working for the victims, transforming itself, in 1964, into the Mizo National Front (MNF) and demanding independence. The conflict ended 22 years later when the Rajiv Gandhi-Laldenga accord was signed in 1986.