Social Scientist. v 12, no. 133 (June 1984) p. 44.


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NOTES

Forestry in Tripura:

Its Past and Present

TRIPURA comprises some parallel ranges of hills, the Jampui, Sakhan, Langtarai, Atharamura, Baramura. The hills were covered for the most part with forests and bamboo jungles while the low lands abounded with various kinds of trees, caae brakes, thorny plants, grasslands and swamps in the past. The old Hill Tipperah was once the home of wild elephants and other wHd animals. Hunter in 176 quotes the report of an officer of the Topographical Survey to describe the whole area between the Jampui and Atharamura ranges as "densely covered with h%h forest and bamboo jungle, with entanglewnts of thorny scrub, canes, creepers, and nettle, through which it is impossible to force a passage without much cutting and cleaning, excepting along the regularly used tracks of wild elephants '91 But in this dense deqp forest man lived and eked out a precarious existence from forest products.

For a long time, the forests had no value to the rulers of Tripura and the products of the forests consumed fey the foresters were not taken into account by the rulers. Since the forests were traditionally conceived as unproductive jungle, the people living in and on the edges of forests were permitted by the Maharaja of Tripura to exercise their ^ge-old right. Ghar-Chukti Kar (House Tax) and some other taxes were collected homjhumias (shifting cultivators) in the past in lieu of forest reveuue or land revenue. With the growth of neighbouring markets in British India {with the construction of Railways in British India in the fifties and sixties of the nineteenth century when great chunks of forests were needed to meet the demand for railway sleepers and when timber was used as fuel) the importance of forests was increasingly felt by the Tripura Durbar Private contractors appeared on the scene. The demand for surrendering the customary rights of the forest people was increasingly heard. The denial of the customary right implied progressive alienation of forest-dwellers from forests and their consequent hunger and starvation. Thus tension -was created in the forests of Tripura which was reflected in a number of tribal upsurges in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The first Act relating to forests of Tripura was Act I of 1296



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