Friday, July 31, 2009

Bamboo drive to beat rebels

- Handicraft to stop tribals from joining Maoist ranks
SHASHANK SHEKHAR

Baskets of hope
Dhanbad/Bokaro, July 30: The forest department has embarked on a bamboo plantation drive with the aim of generating employment for tribals of Naxalite strongholds in Dhanbad and Bokaro districts so that they aren’t easily lured into joining the rebel ranks.

The department has already embarked on a mission to plant more than 30,000 bamboo saplings.

The bamboo produced will be used to make handicraft products, thus providing a boost to the cottage industry and generating jobs for both young and old.

Three villages in Topchanchi block, two in Tundi block, four in Baghmara and one in Mahuda block of Dhanbad district and two villages each in Nawadih and Gomia blocks of Bokaro have been chosen for the drive.

The Union government has sanctioned Rs 18 lakh for the project. More funds have been promised if positive results emerge.

After receiving reports that Maoist top leaders were luring unemployed youths and even elders sitting idle at home to join them in return for money and other facilities, the Centre had asked the forest department to initiate the project.

Talking to The Telegraph, district forest officer of Dhanbad Sanjiv Kumar said they wanted to create jobs for both young and old residents. “While the old people can make bamboo products, the youth can sell them in the market. Besides, we need people for the plantation job as well,” he said.

The villagers, he added, were showing a lot of interest in the project. “Regular training will be held for them,” Kumar promised.

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