Agartala: The Eastern Zonal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought a response from Tripura Forest Department and North Tripura district administration on a public complaint regarding the move of the state government to resettle over 40,000 displaced Brus of Western Mizoram in the reserved forest.
The NGT asked the state to submit the Bru rehabilitation plan to the bench before July 14 next.
After 24 years of suffering in relief camps, the Tripura government had resettled 493 members belonging to 426 families of a total of 6500 camps living Bru families of Mizoram in two forest locations of Dhalai district in April this year.
Tripura government has the plan to rehabilitate displaced families in various locations of North Tripura, Unokoti and Dhalai districts in a phased manner.
According to the report, in the first phase, 252 members of 220 Bru families were provided resettlement at Haduklau hamlet of Ambassa and another 241 members of 206 families were shifted to Bongofapara locality in Langtarai Valley of Dhalai district so far from Hezacherra, Ashapara and Naisingpara relief camps of Kanchanpur in North Tripura.
The government has made dwelling sheds for their temporary stay cleaning the jungles and provided funds for the construction of pucca houses as per the quadripartite agreement signed last year in New Delhi. As per the agreement, each Bru family living in the camps would get a 40×30 ft plot of land with Rs 1.5 lakh assistance for building a pucca house besides, a fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh, financial aid of Rs 5,000 per month along free rations supply for the next two years.
The non-tribal people of North Tripura have been opposing the rehabilitation plan of Mizoram Brus in the Tripura forest since the beginning. Several NGOs and Civil Society organizations had also observed a month-long strike in Kanchanpur in December last year protesting the move. A protester died in a police bullet while a fire service crew was beaten to death by the protesters during the blockade of National Highway, which has widened the communal divide in the state but the state government didn’t step back from the rehabilitation move.
Aggrieved with the government’s plan to rehabilitate Brus violating Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act 1980, a citizen of Kanchanpur Dhanishwar Debnath lodged a complaint with NGT seeking redress. Accepting the complaint, NGT Eastern Zone Bench at Kolkata on June 9, directed the Principal Secretary of Tripura’s Forest Department, the District Magistrate of North Tripura district and others to submit a report on the rehabilitation plan by July 14.
Debnath complained that an e-tender had been floated by the Tripura government on November 4, 2020, seeking certain constructions within a forest area, which is prohibited under The Forest Protection Act. The estimate revealed that the proposed construction for resettling the Brus would take place in a 250 -hectare green belt.
In January last year, the agreement of Bru settlement in Tripura was signed by Tripura, Mizoram and Central governments with Bru organizations to resolve the impasse of about 40,000 people Brus who had to leave their home and hearth following a series of communal attack on them in October 1997 in the villages of Western Mizoram.
There were several rounds of talks for the repatriation of Brus in Mizoram but the matter was unresolved because of disagreement between Brus and Mizoram government. However, in the last 10 years about 7,000 Brus returned to Mizoram after nine phases of repatriation till November 30, 2019, but they are not happy in their homeland.
The Bru leaders alleged most of their problems were not addressed by the Mizoram government. As a result, the remaining Bru families didn’t agree to go back to Mizoram and preferred to remain in Tripura. At the initial phase of resettlement, the Tripura government has shifted them to the forest villages with a temporary dwelling shed in their identified plot of land along with basic amenities like drinking water and electricity in the localities.
The Centre had sanctioned a package of Rs 600 Cr for Bru settlement in Tripura. An amount of Rs 150 lakh was earmarked to the state government for land acquisition and the rest would be spent for the welfare of the Brus and the development of infrastructure in the localities. Instead of buying private land, the state government has identified as many as 20 forest locations for rehabilitation of Bru so far and targeted to complete the process by the current financial year.