Govt explores cultivation in Karbi Anglong district

GUWAHATI: Taking a cue from Tripura, Assam government is exploring ways of involving members of United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in rubber cultivation in Karbi Anglong district.

The Karbi outfit had signed a peace accord with the Centre last month. Over 300 cadres, including leaders of UPDS, are to lay down their arms at the Karbi Anglong Sports Association ( KASA) stadium at Diphu on December 14.

State soil conservation minister, Ardhendu Kumar Dey told TOI on Sunday that he has already discussed rubber cultivation plans in the district with UPDS leaders. Dey said with UPDS joining the mainstream, rubber plantation could be the best option for economic rehabilitation for members of the outfit.

"In Tripura insurgency was successfully contained by ushering in rubber cultivation. The economic benefits from rubber cultivation can also be replicated for members of insurgent outfits in Assam. In fact, I had talks with leaders of UPDS for taking up rubber cultivation in Karbi Anglong," Dey said.

Rubber cultivation in Karbi Anglong was prevalent many years ago, but the spell of insurgency affected its promotion for over a decade in the district.

Rubber Board member, Siby Monipally said, "Rubber plantation has proved to be the most dependable source of income. This sector is going to uplifting economic activity in Karbi Anglong in a big way."

Mrinal Chowdhury, Rubber Board's field office in-charge at Diphu (Karbi Anglong district headquarters) said, "The situation has changed in Karbi Anglong now. Former militants who have joined the mainstream are showing interest in taking up rubber cultivation. More than 50 members of militant groups in Karbi Anglong have already started rubber plantation for economic benefits." At present, about 2,500 hectares in Karbi Anglong district is under rubber plantation.

"With the improvement of law and order situations now, we are all set to usher in plantation economy through rubber in Karbi Anglong," Chowdhury added.

The state soil conservation department has targeted to cover 50,000 hectares in the state under rubber plantation in the next five years.

"Assam's potential area for rubber cultivation is two lakh hectares. Right now we have set the target of bringing 10,000 hectares under rubber plantation each year and in five years we are going to cover altogether 50,000 hectares," Dey said.

The potential yield from 50,000 hectares is estimated to be 375,000 metric tons of rubber latex in five years, expected to generate an income of over Rs 10,350 crore.