German aid for Tripura to empower tribals, protect forest

June 12th, 2009 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, June 12 (IANS) Germany will provide a whopping Rs.1.40 billion financial assistance to the northeastern state of Tripura for empowering the tribals and people living in remote areas by utilising the abundant natural resources, a minister said Friday.
“Under the Indo-German development project, the German government would provide 15 million euros (Rs.1.40 billion) as grant to implement the six years long project,” Tripura forest and industries minister Jitendra Chowdhury said.

The German-aided scheme entitled ‘Participatory Natural Resources Management in Tripura’ was launched by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar Friday at Ambassa, 110 km north of state capital Agartala.

“About 50,000 families, mostly tribal and rural poor, would benefit under this project, to be implemented in 104 villages under Dhalai and north Tripura districts,” Chowdhury said.

He said Germany would also provide technical assistance to utilise the natural resources for sustainable development to make the people self-reliant.

According to the forest officials, the project is the first of its kind in India as it is aimed at socio-economic development of tribals and other backward people and the protection of natural resources through the development of a participatory management of natural resources in the northeastern state.

The German-aided scheme, which would cover 343,100 hectares of forest land, would also reduce the activities of ‘Jhum cultivation’ (slash and burn shifting cultivation) and increase bio-diversity.

“The German grant was allocated by the government-owned development bank KfW,” said Christian Mathias Schlaga, the German ambassador in India.

Schlaga, who was the chief guest in Friday’s project launching programme, said: “Over a 100 Joint Forest Management (JFM) committees and 300 self-help groups would be involved in the project.”

Frankfurt-based KfW is a German government-owned development bank and it was formed after World War II as part of the Marshall Plan.

Meanwhile, Japan is also funding a major ecological conservation project in Tripura with a Rs.3.07 billion soft loan. It will be financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) at simple interest.

The JBIC agreed to provide financial assistance for the eight years long project, which is aimed at upgrading the degraded forestland, caused by shifting cultivation, into an ecologically and commercially productive forest. It would also help in improving the quality of life of locals, especially in tribal-dominated areas.

The tribal people in the hilly terrain of Tripura and other northeastern states have for generations been carrying out the traditional slash-and-burn method of cultivation, which has resulted in degradation of forestland and badly affected the condition of soil.

Some 55,049 tribal families in Tripura are involved in this primitive form of cultivation, locally called “jhum cultivation”, covering a forest area of about 40,000 hectares.

The Tokyo-based JBIC is a Japanese Government financial institution which was incorporated on Oct 1, 1999, after the merger of erstwhile Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan (OECF) and the Export Import Bank of Japan (EXIM).

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