Biren assures all possible support to Self-Help Groups

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Imphal: Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh assured all possible support from the government to all Self-Help Groups under various Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, in their efforts to promote forest produce and enhance their livelihood.

The chief minister made the assurance as he inaugurated the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Mela, 2022 at Manipur State Film Development Society, Imphal on Wednesday.

Van Dhan Yojana was launched nationwide by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14, 2018 and was launched in the state on October 14, 2019 to help in transforming the economy of tribal people in the state. The scheme is now able to provide employment directly or indirectly to 41,918 members of various Self-Help Groups, Biren said.

He informed that the government would try to complete the construction of work shed and storage for minor forest products soon, in consultation with concerned department and officials.

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The state has huge potentials and resources which are yet to be explored. If value addition, proper packaging and marketing of forest products can be done, our products can also compete in the international market, he said. He also stressed the need to set up a food processing factory in a suitable place at Imphal.

“Forest is our life” and that the government had earlier taken the decision of issuing weapons to the Forest department officials to protect the forest, considering the utmost importance of its preservation, he said. Raising concern on encroachment of Reserve Forest areas for settlement, he warned that legal action would be taken up against officials who unlawfully give recognition and approval for settlement in Reserve Forest areas.

Biren appreciated the officials of the Forest department for the dedication and hard work towards saving the forest land of the state adding that the revival of forest areas had started.

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The state government is not against anyone or any particular community. It had taken up various initiatives to preserve the forest for the sake of the whole society and for future generations, he said.

Biren inspected the stalls set up by 14 Territorial Forest Divisions at the venue.

Forest, environment and climate change minister Thongam Biswajit Singh said challenges of a society are its economy and employment. Under the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY), 2127 Van Dhan Self-Help Groups had been set up giving benefits to 41,918 members, thereby improving their livelihood. The state government had taken up various initiatives for promoting tribal enterprise through value addition, branding and better ways of marketing of forest products.

The department is planning to open up kiosks of forest produce in every district for improvement in marketing of the produce, he said and appealed to the public for their support in the government initiatives to enhance development of the state and livelihood of the people.

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Tribal affairs and hills minister Letpao Haokip stated that the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana was launched to improve the livelihood of less developed tribal people and generation of employment. He stressed the chief minister’s desire to carry out terrace cultivation at hill areas, planting horticulture crops and construction of check dams. He said planting horticulture crops can aid in achieving self-reliance.

Principal chief conservator of Forest Dr A.K. Joshi, officials of the Forest department and members of Self-Help Groups also attended the programme among others.

The Mela which is an exhibition of the best of Van Dhan Vikas Kendra workmanship from all districts of Manipur is organised by the state Forest department under the aegis of TRIFED and Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana.

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