By Vanlalrema Kuki
Rehabilitation of the jhumias of Tripura became a priority for the state administration to achieve inclusive growth and development. The attempts started during Maharaja Bir Bikram reign by keeping aside a land reservation for jhumias settlement in different parts of the state. The successive state governments also follow the rehabilitation process through various programmes. The significant programmes included agricultural farming, colony scheme, animal husbandry, sericulture, pisciculture and most importantly, horticultural crops, tea and rubber plantations. The first formal attempt began in the 1950s in the southern part of Tripura. The government’s efforts initially appeared a failure because of the massive desertion of the programmes. However, the introduction of permanent-based cultivation of the horticultural and plantation crops as part of the schemes proved successful. Specifically, Block Plantation Scheme became a game changer in the gamut of the jhumias settlement programme, promoting the state as the second largest rubber producer in the country. At the same time, the positive impacts could be seen in the life and livelihood of the beneficiaries. It empowered the beneficiaries socially and economically due to the higher economic returns from plantation cultivation than shifting cultivation. Henceforth, jhumias could forgo their traditional migratory nature of wandering and leading a settled life.