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Sustainable use of patta-land by RFR beneficiaries

The Recognition of Forest Rights Act (RFR), 2006 aims at empowering forest dwellers and other communities by transferring land utilization rights to the common people, living around protected forest lands. The RFR Act, 2006 was introduced by the Govt. of India to bring about newer livelihood and income-generating opportunities to the forest dependent communities, and also to make people naturally responsible for protection of the forest areas around them.

The IGDC Project has the mandate to work for the enhancement of livelihood conditions of the people vested with land rights under the RFR Act, 2006. Also, this is one of the uniqueness of the project. The project has a total project-area of 3,43,100 ha, spread over Dhalai & North Tripura Districts. In this, about 65% area comes under forest coverage. The project has about 244541 beneficiaries (ST: 94%), with a coverage of about 48608 households. The project aims at socio-economically empowering this populace, taking advantage of the provisions of the RFR Act, 2006.

The targeted populace of the project, so far, by and large, had been dependent upon their traditional way of cultivation- Jhum. Jhum has been a detrimental practice, since it not only causes considerable deforestation, but also causes soil erosion. Moreover, it is hardly able to provide them with any sort of sustainable livelihood/income-generating opportunities.

To shift the focus of such communities from the traditional way of jhumming, multiple land-based activities are being promoted by the IGDC Project. Once the land rights are transferred to the beneficiaries, and, subsequently, the demarcation of the individual areas is done by the concerned departments, the beneficiaries are given plantation materials for undertaking plantation activities on their individual lands (such land are commonly called as Patta lands). The project is encouraging the beneficiaries to undertake Bamboo, and Horti-forestry plantations on the patta lands. The project has an aim of extending plantation benefits to beneficiaries over 11000 ha of patta land. While Bamboo is found to have a considerable demand across the country, and relatively quicker yielding time, Horti-forestry will bring economic benefits to the beneficiaries in a longer term.

Another land-based intervention, aimed at providing sustainability to the RFR beneficiaries, is the construction of check dams over patta lands, and promotion of Fishery activities therein. The project is undertaking construction at least 5 check dams/village. An equal no. of check dams are expected to be built by other related departments (through fund-convergence mechanism). While, on one hand, check dams shall act as an year-long source of clean water to these perennially water-starved areas (falling under the project), these shall also be used for undertaking fishery. Fishery, as an IGA (Income Generating Activity), is found to be reasonably profitable, with considerable present and future market.

The state of Tripura has already taken considerable strides in the implementation of the RFR Act, 2006. Taking this as an opportunity, The IGDC Project, Tripura aims at setting examples on the aspects of sustainable use of patta lands vested under the RFR Act, 2006.

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