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September 13, 2009

Hmarkhawlein hit by mautam

SILCHAR, Sept 12: Hmarkhawlein, the village of Hmars which is the second largest tribal group in Barak Valley after the Dimasas located 32 km from here, in Lakhipur subdivision of Cachar district, is hit by mautam or bamboo-flowering, a 20-year cyclic natural phenomenon that swells rodent population and spells famine. The rodents feed on spending crops, reducing productivity from agricultural land, culminating in severe food crisis.

It was witnessed in its severity in Mizoram in the 50’s. It is now being contained to a great extent with scientific and preemptive management with financial back up from the Centre.
Mautam has cast its shadow in North Cachar Hills as well this time, though in a limited manner. According to Rev Lalhuoplien, Chairman of NGO Neicord, Barak Area, Fulertal, jhum-cultivation in the hills and Hmarkhawlein has been hit hard by the cyclic disorder.
When the jhum or shifting cultivation has begun to bear corns, the rodents at night feast on them. Bamboo flowering in abundance has added to the growing menace, he pointed out.
Jhum cultivators due to crop failure are faced with economic hardship, making it difficult for them to have their minimum sustenance. Rev Lalhuoplien said their NGO has extended its helping hand to the farmers in distress with relief materials including rice. Neicord, as he pointed out, has so far covered 65 villages, dominated by Hmars, Rongmei, Khasi, Kuki and other tribes.
He said, “this is a kind of food for work in which each village is asked to do some social work for the community and to receive the relief materials.”
Thethem and her colleagues of the NGO move from one centre to another to distribute essential items among the farmers.
Neicord has earned the gratitude and appreciation of people in general for its human works. The executive director of Neicord Rev Mansang Sangate, who is looking after the entire relief operation, said he expects the civil administration to help the people in crisis.
Hmarkhawlein village, it is to be recalled, came into existence in 1961.
The villagers depend on agriculture and seasonal pineapple plantation which was initiated by Rev Watkin Roberts who actually laid the foundation of this village and lured the Hmars from other areas to this developing village.
The collective income generated from this seasonal cash crop is estimated to be around Rs 25 lakh.
This season the crop of the village known for its taste and sweetness has also been adversely affected. (Source – The Sentinel)

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