Rs 12.93 crore released for Mautam famine relief

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Aizawl, Mar 11 (UNI) Mizoram Governor Lt Gen (Retd) M M Lakhera today said the state government had released Rs 12.93 crore from the state calamity relief fund and national calamity contingency fund for the families affected by the Mautam famine.

''The government has declared unconventional war on the acute shortage of rice currently stalking the rural areas as a sequel to the periodic bamboo flowering or Mautam in local parlance. The government is making all out efforts to mitigate the sufferings of our farmers in rural areas who are under the grip of the famine,'' the Governor said in his address during the Assembly Budget Session.

He said the state government had submitted a memorandum to the Centre asking for assistance, which stated that 90 per cent of rice harvest in Mizoram was lost to the rodent menace.

In order to have an in-depth knowledge of the famine situation and extent of crop destroyed by rodents and loss sustained by farmers, district-level famine committees had been set up in all the districts, the Governor said.

The Centre's reduction of the monthly allotment of rice from the existing 6,810 tonnes to 2,446 tonnes from April 2006 had worsened the rice shortage.

''Following the earnest efforts of the state government, the Centre has allocated 5,000 tonnes rice per month at subsidised rates from November, 2007, to March 2008. The rice purchased at subsidised rates is being distributed to the people at normal PDS price of Rs 9.30 per kg and the state government bears the additional cost.

Sugar allocation of 666 tonnes is also being distributed to the public,'' Mr Lakhera pointed out.

Under the Baffacos (Bamboo Flowering and Famine Combat Scheme) which aims at enhancing purchasing power of the famine-affected rural people by giving them wage-employment, Rs 10,000 lakh was distributed to all the eight districts during 2007-2008 and utilised by the village-level Baffacos committee, the Governor said.

Besides, Central programmes such as IAY, SGRY and NREGS were also helping to mitigate the sufferings of the rural folk.

Among others, the state government was vigorously pursuing the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project, envisaged to link the Northeastern states with Sittwe Port in Myanmar, and the triangular road connectivity with Myanmar through Zokhawthar (Champhai) to bring economic vibrancy in Mizoram.

He added that a sum of Rs 209 lakh had been allocated during 2007-2008 for creating export-import infrastructure with Myanmar.

''A project for construction of multi-storeyed trade facilitation centre at Tlabung in Lunglei district has also been approved where construction will commence shortly and it will be an excellent centre for promoting trade with Bangladesh through the traditional trade route over Khawthlangtuipui river,'' he said.

The Budget Session will continue tomorrow with the laying of the State Annual Budget by Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who also handles the Finance portfolio.

UNI ZS DPM AB 1434

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