Bru Rehabilitation In Tripura

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    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has received a complaint that Bru refugees from adjoining Mizoram were being resettled in a forest.

    About

    • The complainant pointed out that construction was being carried out for resettling the Brus in a 250-hectare green belt.
    • It was pointed out that this would be in violation of Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980.
    • NGT has sought a report from the Forest Department and a district administration in Tripura on the rehabilitation of the Bru refugees.

     

    About Brus or Reangs

    • The Brus or Reangs is a community indigenous to the Northeast, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram, and Assam.
    •  In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTGs).
      • It is a classification by the Government for more vulnerable tribes among the tribal groups.
    • The tribe has a declining or stagnant population, low level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and are economically backward.
    • They generally inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support.

    Bru-Reang Refugee Crisis

    • More than 40,000 Brus have been living in six refugee camps in northern Tripura’s Kanchanpur sub-division since 1997 when they escaped ethnic violence in adjoining Mizoram. 
      • Only about 7,000 refugees returned to Mizoram after nine phases of repatriation till November 30, 2019.
    • Most of the Brus declined the Centre’s rehabilitation packages citing insecurity and poor living conditions in Mizoram and had demanded the creation of an autonomous council for the community as a precondition for vacating the relief camps.
      • The displaced Brus who returned to Mizoram have already begun demanding a package equivalent to the one those who stayed behind in the Tripura relief camps would be getting.
    • And conflicts between the Brus and the local Bengali non-tribal people have started taking place in Tripura.
    • In Mizoram, they were targeted by ethnic organisations who demanded that the Brus be excluded from electoral rolls.
      • Clashes in 1995 with the majority Mizos led to the demand for the removal of the Brus, perceived to be non-indigenous, from Mizoram’s electoral rolls. 
      • This led to an armed movement by a Bru outfit, which killed a Mizo forest official in October 1997. 

    Steps For Their Rehabilitation 

    • The Government has made multiple attempts to resettle the Brus in Mizoram. 
    • The first was in November 2010 when 1,622 Bru families with 8,573 members went back. 
      • Protests by Mizo NGOs, primarily the Young Mizo Association, stalled the process in 2011, 2012 and 2015. 
    • Meanwhile, the Brus began demanding relief on a par with the relief given to Kashmiri Pandits and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. 
    • The Centre spent close to ?500 crore for relief and rehabilitation until the last peace deal was brokered over three years since 2015. 
      • A final package of ?435 crore was arrived at in July 2018 and it involved Mizo NGOs besides the governments concerned.
    • In January 2020 , the agreement of Bru settlement in Tripura was signed by Tripura, Mizoram and the Centre with Bru organizations to resolve the impasse of about 40,000 Brus.
      •  This agreement will allow the displaced refugees to permanently settle in Tripura.

    National Green Tribunal (NGT) 

    • It has been established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. 
    • Intent:It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. 
      • The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
    • Jurisdiction: The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving a substantial question relating to the environment and the question. 
      • The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters provides speedy environmental justice and helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
    • Composition: It is headed by the Chairperson who sits in the Principal Bench and has at least ten but not more than twenty judicial members and at least ten but not more than twenty expert members.
    • Sittings: New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four places of sitting of the Tribunal.
    • Disposal: The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same

    Source :TH