850 mn to tackle bamboo flowering in northeast

Friday, 29 September 2006, 07:00 Hrs
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Agartala: The central government has allocated 850 million ($18.5 million) for the seven northeastern states to tackle the gregarious bamboo flowering that is fuelling fears of a famine in the region.

"The ministry of environment and forests has released the first instalment of 178.20 million to the northeast to implement various schemes for implementation of the action plan to control bamboo flowering," said Tripura's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) R.P. Tangwan.

Under this project, Mizoram will get the highest amount of 230 million, which will be followed by Tripura with 210 million and Assam with 130 million. Manipur follows next with 90 million, Nagaland with 80 million, Meghalaya 60.80 million and Arunachal Pradesh will get 10.50 million.

"In a bid to prevent recurrence of history, the centre has taken an ambitious 3.66 billion action plan that was approved by the steering committee set up by the ministry of environment and forests with representatives from these northeastern states," Tangwan told IANS.

Bamboo flowering in the region caused a famine in 1959, which ultimately triggered the infamous movement by the militant outfit-turned political party Mizo National Front (MNF).

"Most of the bamboo species flower after the end of a long number of years of vegetative growth. The flowering is synchronous over vast tracks of landscape and this phenomenon is called gregarious flowering, which is followed by death of the bamboo clumps. But such peculiar behaviour of the bamboo sometimes creates problems for the ecology and for human beings," said environmentalist Rajkumar Kalyanjit Singh.

The gregarious flowering of bamboo results in the production of large quantities of seeds which in turn increases rat population.

"Such a chain of events has the potential to cause a famine. The last gregarious flowering, with a cycle of 48 years, occurred in 1959. The next is expected to start this year end and reach its peak in 2007," Singh said.

Union Forest Ministry Director General N.K. Joshi said during his recent visit here that "under the action plan, three committees had been constituted to tackle the problem".

Bamboo forests in India occupy approximately 10.03 million hectares, which constitutes almost 12.8 percent of the total forest area of the country. About 28 percent of the total bamboo area of the country is located in the northeast.

Source: IANS
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