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Mizoram Government starts Identification of 31,000 Reang Tribal Refugees in Tripura

About 31,300 Reang tribals, who locally call themselves 'Bru', have been living in seven makeshift camps in North Tripura

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Tribal women in India, Wikimedia

Agartala/Aizawl, Nov 2, 2016: Amidst uncertainty of repatriation of over 31,000 Reang tribal refugees, living in Tripura for the past 19 years, Mizoram government officials on Wednesday began their identification.

“A 30-member team of Mizoram government officials led by the state’s Mamit district Deputy Commissioner Lalbiaksangi arrived in north Tripura on Tuesday, and from today (Wednesday) they started the identification process,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Kanchanpur Sub-Division Santosh Deb told IANS over phone.

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He said: “The identification process would continue till November 21. After that the schedule of repatriation of refugees from Tripura to Mizoram would be finalised.”

About 31,300 Reang tribals, who locally call themselves ‘Bru’, have been living in seven makeshift camps in North Tripura’s Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions adjoining Mizoram since October 1997 after they fled their homes in western Mizoram following ethnic violence in the northeastern state.

Despite several initiatives by the Mizoram government to bring them back, the refugees have been reluctant to go back to their villages unless their demands for food and security are met.

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Refugees’ apex body, Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), has been insisting that three teams of their organisations want to visit three Mizoram districts — Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib — to see the situation there as the tribal refuges would be rehabilitated in these three districts after the repatriation.

“We have sent a letter to Union Home Ministry’s Special Secretary (Internal Security), Mahesh Kumar Singla, on October 18 to ask the Mizoram government to arrange the visit of the MBDPF leaders.

“We are yet to get any response from the MHA. How can the refugees return to Mizoram without seeing the local situation in those villages,” MBDPF general secretary Bruno Msha told IANS.

He said the MBDPF has submitted 14 points demands to the MHA. The demands include allotment of five hectares of land to each tribal family, undertake special development plan for the backward tribals and provide adequate security to the repatriated refugees.

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The refugee leader said the Home Ministry agreed to give each refugee family housing assistance of Rs 38,500, cash assistance of Rs 41,500, free rations for two years, blanket and utensils, while Mizoram would reimburse their transportation cost.

The ministry also verbally agreed to extend Rs 1.3 lakh housing scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to each family, said the MBDPF leader, but added he was doubtful about the repatriation in the near future.

Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate said that the Tripura government would provide the logistical support when the repatriation of refugees starts.

A high-level meeting held on October 17 at the Union Home Ministry in New Delhi, discussed in depth the repatriation of the tribal refugees.

MHA’s Special Secretary (Internal Security) Mahesh Kumar Singla presided over the meeting where senior officials from the MHA, Tripura and Mizoram government and MBDPF leaders were present.

A Tripura government’s official said that the Mizoram government officials wanted to start the repatriation from January 2017 instead of pre-scheduled November as the Union government had urged.

The Mizoram officials also remained non-committal to the refugee leaders’ desire to visit the proposed sites where the tribals would be rehabilitated after being repatriated.

The MHA officials recently visited Tripura and Mizoram and held a series of meetings with the officials of both governments and tribal leaders over the repatriation.

The measures came in wake of the Supreme Court’s directives about the repatriation, and the roadmap submitted by Mizoram on how it plans to rehabilitate the displaced people.

Mizoram Home Minister R. Lalzirliana said in Aizawl earlier this week that the state government would not concede the demands of the MBDPF as a pre-condition of the refugees’ repatriation.

“It would also be impossible for the state government to allot the five hectares of land to each repatriated tribal family. Authority to allot land is not vested with the state, but with the village councils.

“The repatriated refugee families also would have to wait for allocation of land for construction of houses and for farming in accordance with the guidelines of their respective village councils,” the minister said while addressing a meeting of ruling Congress party workers.

Meanwhile, the Tripura government has been asking the Union and Mizoram governments to repatriate the refugees at the earliest as serious socio-economic and law and order problems have cropped up in the state. (IANS)

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Ever Thought of Adopting An Animal? Tripura Zoo Gives You The Opportunity

According to the official, the name of the individual or the institution that adopts an animal is also to be displayed at the enclosure of such animals.

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With greater publicity, the adoption scheme must be popularised as most people do not know about the noble plan. Pixabay

Ever dreamt of adopting a lion, a crocodile or a Himalayan black bear or any wild animal?

If yes, here’s your opportunity to do so in Tripura – except that you cannot take the animal home.

According to a senior Tripura wildlife official, any institution or individual can adopt an animal by annually paying between Rs 5,020 and Rs 2,81,000 for its upkeep at the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Zoo, located in western Tripura’s Sepahijala District.

The scheme encourages people to participate in the conservation of wildlife, especially endangered species.

Tripura’s Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Dvijendra Kumar Sharma said: “To those who adopt an animal, the sanctuary authorities issue certificates of adoption and publish their names in leading newspapers and provide complimentary passes to visit the zoo, besides other privileges.

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The scheme encourages people to participate in the conservation of wildlife, especially endangered species. Pixabay

“Adoption of an animal is noble not only for individuals but for his family too. An adoption makes a great gift for birthdays, anniversaries and are always unique,” Sharma told IANS.

Animals listed for adoption are lion, crocodile, clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, binturong, hornbill, peacock, common leopard, hoolock gibbon, slow loris, pig-tailed macaque, pelican, capped langur, spectacled langur, leopard cat and even a vulture.

According to the official, the name of the individual or the institution that adopts an animal is also to be displayed at the enclosure of such animals.

Sharma, a popular author on biodiversity and forests, said that so far state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and three other individuals have adopted a Royal Bengal Tiger, a python, a peacock and a clouded leopard.

An official of the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Zoo said that two Royal Bengal Tigers (one male and one female) recently died of disease and talks were on with the Central Zoo to bring two more Royal Bengal Tigers from other zoos in the country.

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According to the official, the name of the individual or the institution that adopts an animal is also to be displayed at the enclosure of such animals. Pixabay

“We are trying to replicate the model of people’s participation in wildlife management followed in the Central Zoo and other zoos in the country, especially in southern states,” said Sharma, a senior Indian Forest Service officer.

“I always loved animals and the environment. That’s why I adopted a clouded leopard. The caretaker of the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Zoo Madhab Chandra Deb inspired me to adopt an animal,” Axis Bank Ltd Senior Vice President Karan Butalia told IANS on the phone from Delhi.

Former Tripura Minister Jawahar Saha’s engineer daughter Mahashweta Saha and an associate professor (Zoology) of state-run Ramthakur College Sharmistha Banerjee adopted a python and a peacock (peafowl) respectively.

“With greater publicity, the adoption scheme must be popularised as most people do not know about the noble plan,” Banerjee told IANS.

Also Read: The Unconventional Way of Learning: Textbooks Come Alive in Gujarat’s Schools

The Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Zoo (25 km south of Agartala), set up in 1972 within a sanctuary and home to 655 animals belonging to 55 different species, is the first zoo in eastern and northeastern India where adoption of animals had started a few years ago.

Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and Zoo’s Head Keeper Madhab Chandra Deb told IANS: “My love for animals since childhood attracted the top forest officials and they gave me a government job. I request all people including tourists and visitors to extend their love and support to the animals and also adopt them.” (IANS)