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Indian Army launches ‘Tamul plates’ project in Assam to rehabilitate former insurgents

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Former insurgents manufacturing Tamul plates in Assam

The Indian Army, in collaboration with Pune-based NGO Aseem, has launched a new initiative to aid the rehabilitation of former insurgents in Assam.

As part of the self-employment project titled ‘Manufacture of Tamul Plates’, former insurgents are being employed to manufacture biodegradable and cost-effective ‘Tamul plates’ that are made from the leaves and barks of arecanut trees.

According to a statement released by the Indian Army Thursday, this is a pilot project that is operational in the Borrangajuli village in Tamulpur district at the moment.

“As a pilot project, few ex cadres are being engaged in making biodegradable, environment friendly, cost effective Tamul plates which can be used in catering services to serve meals in offices/institutes for large gatherings,” the statement read.

The Indian Army noted that the primary idea behind the project was to improve the economic conditions of the former insurgents and to give them an opportunity to be self-reliant.

 “The project aimed at improving economic conditions and providing an opportunity to earn through self employment, is currently providing employment to ex-insurgents,” said Lt Col Harsh Wardhan Pande, a defence ministry official at Tezpur, in the statement.

He added that plans are also being made to expand the scale and the scope of the project. Additional machinery is also being purchased to augment existing capacities.

NGO Aseem plans to market the product in Maharashtra and Assam to generate more sales and improve the financial conditions of the employees.

For many of these former insurgents, this project is proving to be a life-changing opportunity.

“In 2013, I joined NDFB and returned in November 2018. I had served jail time for three months and after being released I was extremely worried about my family’s economic condition. I am engaged in the Tamul plate production process and support my family with the income,” said Sagar Doimari, a resident of Assam’s Udalguri district.

The National Democratic Front of Boroland or NDFB was an armed separatist group in Assam that sought a separate Boroland for the Bodo people. In January this year, the Narendra Modi government signed a historic peace accord with the group.

“I am grateful to the Indian Army for helping me, whatever I am today is because of them,” said Doimari.

Raw materials sourced from local villages

The raw materials used for the manufacture of these plates are sourced from local farms in remote villages of Tamulpur district.

The leaves and bark of the arecanut trees that are otherwise thrown away as waste are now being collected by the local youth to make these biodegradable plates.

“The success of the pilot project can be gauged from the response of the locals who have requested to replicate the project in many more areas. The ex insurgent’s families are happy since it would offer them an opportunity for dignified earning,” the army’s statement noted.

“The villagers are also excited since the Tamul leaves and barks which were earlier being thrown as waste are being commercially sold. The local youth are being engaged for collection and stocking of raw material,” it added.

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