Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb Wednesday launched a project for Sustainable Catchment Forest Management at State Forest Academy Ground in Hatipara in West Tripura and said the project would help develop the quality of forestlands and livelihood of forest dwellers in the state.
The project is jointly funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Government of India.
“JICA is providing us Rs. 1,000 crores for a span of 10 years to improve forestlands in targeted catchment areas of Tripura. This will involve sustainable forest management, soil and moisture conservation and livelihood development”, Chief Minister Deb said at the inaugural event this afternoon.
Eighty per cent of the project would be funded by JICA while Government of India would fund 20 per cent of the project value.
Deb said that forest dwellers and people at large have faced problems to access forest resources due to soil erosion caused by massive degradation of forestlands. The new project has got provisions to built 1,447 check dams in hilly terrains of Tripura.
“This new project has got many components including fisheries, agriculture, forest, tourism etc. 1,447 check dams would be constructed in hilly terrains of the state to make sure that there is no chance of a flood in the plains. The water this conserved would be used for agricultural purposes and for fisheries and poultry farming (ducks)”, Deb said.
Shortly after assuming office in March last year, the Chief Minister visited upper catchment of hilly rivers in Baramura Hills and said two check-dams would be built to check seasonal floods that render thousands homeless during monsoons in Agartala city.
Deb today hoped that check-dams built as part of the JICA funded project would help put an end to flood-induced disasters across the hilly Northeast Indian state.
JICA funded projects became operational in Tripura in 2007 with an initial earmarked fund of Rs. 4 crores. A host of forest management activities including joint forest management, soil conservation etc were done with a cumulative fund involvement of Rs. 304.62 crores till 2017 when Phase I of the Tripura JICA Project expired. 79.54 hectare joint forest land was developed in Tripura with the involvement of 1,505 self-help groups during the first phase.
638 project employees including officials, executives and personnel were engaged on ad hoc basis by erstwhile Left Front government after the first phase engagement ran out till April 2018 when incumbent BJP-IPFT government denied an extension of their service.
The chief minister also said that his government would focus on developing Agar cultivation in Tripura and claimed that price of Agar is equal to gold.
“Price of Agar is equal to fold. We are considering to grow Agar in Tripura and export it elsewhere. People in Tripura will be thus able to draw higher income. We are also contemplating to grow black pepper, pineapples, bamboo, ginger, betel nut leaves in large scale”, Deb said.