Tripura eyes more German aid for tribals



Germany, which has provided Rs.1.4-billion financial aid to Tripura for empowering tribals and remote area residents by utilising natural resources, may provide additional monetary assistance, it was disclosed.

Tripura Forest and Industries Minister Jitendra Choudhury said Germany has indicated it might give additional financial support to the Indo-German Development Cooperation (IGDC) project for two more years beyond 2014.

"We will approach the German government through the Indian government's economic affairs division of the finance ministry. While German bank KfW gave the earlier aid, the government may give the extra help," Choudhury said.

Comprising officials of the central and the state governments, an Indian delegation, led by Choudhury visited Germany from Aug 22 to study the successful livelihood projects based on forests in that country.

KfW, a German government-owned development bank based in Frankfurt, has been providing financial assistance to various Indian-German forest-based projects in India.

Under the IGDC project, the KfW, Germany's third-biggest bank by assets, has been providing 15 million euros (Rs.1.4 billion) as grant to implement the five-year-long (2009-2014) project.

Over 50,000 families, mostly tribals and rural poor, would benefit under the project, to be implemented in 104 villages under Dhalai and north Tripura districts.

Germany is also providing technical assistance to utilise natural resources for sustainable development to make people self-reliant.

The KfW-aided scheme, covering 343,100 hectares of forest land, would also reduce "Jhum" cultivation (slash and burn shifting cultivation) and increase bio-diversity.

"We also want financial help from KfW under the climate change mitigation task. But Indian government officials when sending the scheme to KfW, excluded Tripura, Manipur and Sikkim keeping other five northeastern states for the aid," the minister said.

"Now the Tripura government would submit the scheme afresh to get the fiscal support."

The Indian delegation, besides visiting Germany's various forests and bio-diversity based project, met scientists, experts and environmentalists of prominent institutions in Germany and Britain and discussed projects on bio-diversity, climate change, protection of ecology, wildlife, forest management and primate and vulture breeding.

Tribals 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 forest land and affected the soil condition.

Some 55,049 tribal families in Tripura are involved in this primitive form of cultivation, covering forest area of about 40,000 hectares. - IANS