Rubber cultivation is a lucrative business in Tripura, but is troubling the state government for twin reasons – drugs and encroachment.
Narendra Chandra Debbarma, Tripura’s revenue minister said on Monday that 21,019 acres of government land in Tripura has been encroached, and are being used for rubber cultivation.
After Kerala, Tripura is the second largest rubber producing state in India. About 90,000 hectares of land in the state is under rubber plantation.
The tiny state produces about 70,000 tonnes of rubber annually.
Debbarma is not happy because of the encroachment, which he claimed, was encouraged by the erstwhile Left Front government.
But, Debbarma probably forgot to inform the members of the Tripura legislative Assembly that a large number of rubber planters are using the encroached land for Ganja plantation.
Enforcement agencies, engaged in preventive operations in the region found a new trend of Ganja smuggling from the Northeast.
So far, Manipur was the main producers of ganja, and consignments of dried and compressed blocks were regularly being transshipped to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
But, because of stringent enforcement during the last couple of years, Tripura has emerged as the new hub of Ganja production and smuggling.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is working in close coordination with Customs (Preventive) to intercept and smash the smuggling cartel operating from Tripura.
Interestingly, investigations carried out by the DRI and Customs (Preventive) have revealed that all consignments of Ganja originated from Bishalgarh in Sepahijala district of Tripura.
As the entire Sepahijala area is covered with thick vegetation and rubber plantation, the ganja smugglers have invested on the local villagers to grow cannabis deep inside the jungles, and remain unnoticed.
The new Tripura operations of the ganja smuggling network have twin advantages for the smugglers.
A large portion of the produce is smuggled to Bangladesh as there is huge demand of the contraband.
Secondly, as the network is fresh, probability of interceptions by the enforcement agencies will be relatively less.
A team of DRI officials are already in touch with the officials of the Rubber Board and the District administration of Sepahijala to initiate immediate steps on ground to destroy the Ganja cultivation in the area.