6 foreign areca nut carrying vehicles set ablaze in Mizoram
First Published: 10th December, 2022 15:26 IST
Mizoram Rajya Sabha MP K.Vanlalvena wants the Central Customs and Assam Rifles to stop smuggling of foreign areca nuts into Mizoram and save the native areca farmers
In a major incident, 6 vehicles carrying dry areca nuts was burnt down in Mamit district of Western Mizoram this afternoon. The trucks were set ablaze between Zawlnuam and Zamuang villages of Mamit District.
The burning of the trucks have come within two days of Mizoram Rajya Sabha MP K.Vanlalvena raising the issue of Mizoram areca nut growers plight in the Parliament.
Speaking to Northeast Live, MP K.Vanlalvena said, “I support the burning down. The native farmers have been facing a lot of problems because of foreign areca nuts coming into the state. Our farmers are not being export their produce. People have been stopping the vehicles coming in every time. But this time they must have got very angry. The Central Customs and Assam Rifles have been deployed to stop smuggling. I will request the Centre again to stop the influx”.
On December 8, the MP said that farmers of Mizoram and Tripura could not export their own areca nuts to other states as their production was seized and stopped by Assam government officials along the highway in Assam. This was following the instruction given by the Home Ministry. And due to this, the farmers are incurring a great loss.
MP Vanlalvena said in the floor of the Upper House, “There is no reason to stop the native areca nut products anywhere within Indian Union unless you are treating the North East India as a foreign country. Let the smuggling of foreign areca be stopped but let the native products of areca nut be free.”
Speaking during the Zero Hour of the ongoing Winter Session, Vanlalvena informed the Parliament that majority of farmers in western Mizoram and the Jampui hills of Tripura have been depending on areca nut plantation as their main source of income since long time back.
“The market for areca nuts produced from Mizoram and Tripura collapsed this year after the Assam government launched a crackdown on betelnuts smuggled from Myanmar via the two states,” he said.
While appreciating the central government’s move to curb illegally imported areca nuts, the MP urged that areca nuts produced in the northeast region should be allowed to sell anywhere in India and that they (locally grown areca nuts) should not be mistaken for illegally imported ones, unless the northeast region is considered as a foreign country.
The illicit trade of areca nut, which is also known as betel nut or ‘supari’, has been on the rise with the security forces, including the Assam Rifles, often seizing thousands of tonnes of the product, along with drugs, exotic animals and other goods smuggled in from Myanmar.
To curb the clandestine trade of areca nut, the Assam government recently imposed some strict restrictions to ferry areca nut through its territory, affecting the farmers of Tripura and Mizoram from supplying their produce to other parts of India. The problem has been caused by, according to areca nut growers in Mizoram and Tripura, the Assam government’s inability to differentiate smuggled areca nuts and those grown in India.
Hachhek Bial Kuhva Chingtu Pawl (HBKCP), the association representing areca nut growers in the Hachhek area, has been demanding the state government take measures to resolve the problems faced by the native growers. Because of areca nuts coming in from outside Mizoram, the state’s farmers are facing a lot of problems in selling their fresh areca nuts at the local markets or transporting their produce outside the state.
In November, a group of areca nut growers within the Hachhek assembly constituency in western Mizoram’s Mamit district bordering Assam’s Karimganj district had called for a week-long strike commencing from Tuesday to protest against the alleged government apathy towards their plights. The move was to mount pressure on the state government to ensure that the areca nut growers in the area don’t face constant problems to transport their products outside the state.
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