Sinlung /
22 February 2014

India launches jobs push in Northeast

The government looks to lift 300,000 rural families out of poverty in the insurgency-stricken northeast through a new programme.

By Chandan Das

India is mounting a Rs. 8.92 billion ($143.4m) rural poverty-alleviation initiative in the northeastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim where separatist groups threaten regional stability.
  • The Indian government launched a rural northeast livelihood project similar to one launched in Chhattisgarh. [Shankar/Khabar] The Indian government launched a rural northeast livelihood project similar to one launched in Chhattisgarh. [Shankar/Khabar]

The North East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP), which falls under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), follows a similar poverty alleviation effort launched in July in Maoist-affected areas by the Union Rural Development Ministry and UN Development Programme.
The project aims to create jobs or other opportunities for tens of thousands of residents and is geared toward improving the lives of women and unemployed youths, officials say.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio launched NERLP in his state in December, The Morung Express reported.

"Our project not only aims to provide employment and livelihood to the poor, but also stop youths from joining the rebel groups and encourage the misled youths to return to mainstream society," NERLP planning advisor Shri J. Lhungdim told Khabar South Asia.

"By providing a livelihood to the unemployed and poor, we want to ensure that no one from this region is lured to join the insurgent groups."

A World Bank loan will finance most of the five-year project's cost.

"In the initial phase, four districts each in Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim will benefit from the NERLP, which will cover 300,000 families from 1,624 villages in the region," Ameising Luikham, secretary of the North Eastern Council (NEC), which supervises all development activities in the region, told Khabar.

The project will emphasise the building up of community institutions ensuring self-governance, democracy, accountability and transparency, DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar said.

"We also intend to enhance the livelihood and economic opportunities by utilising available natural resources, skills development, generating accessibility to finance and developing vital infrastructures," Ghatowar told Khabar.

NERLP would complement Mizoram's three-year effort to solve a food shortage and create more stable farming methods by moving 125,000 families off Jhum cultivation – including a traditional slash-and-burn of farmland, said Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla.

"In the absence of farming facilities throughout the year, many people were faced with starvation and this prompted several youths from the region to join the insurgent groups. However, the new efforts will help stop this tendency," Thanhawla told Khabar.


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