Tripura has undertaken an ambitious scheme to set up 'forest villages' with the twin objectives of flushing out militancy and developing basic facilities in remote areas.
Clubbing together a number of scattered hamlets, the authorities have set up 23 'forest villages' so far, involving 17,000 people.
"Insurgents have always been taking advantage of the remoteness of these areas and the relatively low presence of the security forces to use them as shelters or hideouts and often force the villagers to do their bidding at gunpoint," Tripura Forest Minister Jitendra Chowdhury told IANS.
He said the initiative would improve the socio-economic scene in these far-flung tribal areas and improve the quality of life of people.
Apart from ensuring security, the project would include construction of houses and roads and provide drinking water and electricity, build schools, health centres and fair-price shops. Community halls would also be built wherever necessary.
"The highest priority is being given for the creation of adequate wage employment. Families settled in such villages are also being assisted to attain economic self-sufficiency in a permanent manner by taking up activities in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fishery, forest plantations and cottage industries," the minister said.
He said more such villages would be formed across the state after assessing the success and performance of these 'forest villages'.