Ex-militants to cultivate rubber in Assam

Surrendered militants in Assam will soon be engaged in productive activities like cultivation of rubber.

Updated: Sep 13, 2011, 13:21 PM IST

Guwahati: Surrendered militants in Assam
will soon be engaged in productive activities like cultivation
of rubber.

"If the ultras can be engaged in fighting poaching in
wildlife sanctuaries and policing, they can be involved in
agricultural activity as well," Assam`s Irrigation Minister
Ardhendu Dey said.

Assam is not the first state in the country to experiment
with the plan to engage former militants in fruitful activity.

Its tiny neighbour Tripura has already shown the way by
becoming the largest producer of rubber in the country after
Kerala by successfully implementing a plan to involve former
militants in rubber cultivation.

"We want to take a leaf out of Tripura`s book," Dey said.

With the current annual production of rubber being a
mere 1,080 kg per hectare, as many as 50,000 acres would be
brought under fresh cultivation over the next five years, the
minister said.

The irrigation department for the purpose has identified
land mostly in Lower Assam where the climate is more suitable
for rubber production.

"Demand for rubber is growing day by day and it is
expected that in the next 20 to 25 years there will be
international and domestic shortage of rubber," Dey noted.

The department has also urged the Centre to enhance
subsidy in the 12th plan so that more funds could be
generated.

The minister said September 22 would be observed as
`Rubber Day` in the state and to mark the occasion more than
one lakh rubber saplings would be planted covering an area of
200 hectares.

"This can very well draw the attention of Guinness Book
of World Records," Dey said.

The districts to be covered under the scheme are Kamrup
(rural and metro), Goalpara, Dhubri, Morigaon, Nagaon and
Golaghat.

PTI