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Tripura top state in granting title deeds to forest-dwellers

 Agartala, May 3 (IANS): The northeastern State of Tripura ranks first in India for providing land deeds to tribals under the forest rights act with 120,418 families benefiting since 2008, a minister said on Thursday.

Tribals living in forests for decades are eligible for 'patta' (land deeds-land rights) under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

"Since 2008, the Left Front government in Tripura has so far distributed land deeds among 120,418 tribal families under the forest rights act. Tripura secured the first position in the country in terms of percentage of tribals got the 'Patta' out of the total population of tribals," Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma told the state assembly.

Tribals, comprising 19 different tribes, account for about 31 percent of Tripura's 3.7 million population.

Replying to the questions of the legislators, the minister said that of the 120,418 tribal families, 77,973 tribal families have been provided various types of assistance to improve their livelihood and Rs 143.47 crore have been spent for this purpose so far.

"In addition, the state government has also given employment to these tribal families under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and funds under Indira Awas Yojana to construct their houses," Debbarma said.

He said that Tripura has sought Rs.444.16 crore from the central government to undertake livelihood schemes for thousands of tribals who got the title deeds in the state under the forest rights act.

"Though the Rs 444.16 crore project was submitted to the centre January 2011, no positive response has yet been received," the minister regretted.

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