It is commonly believed that practising Jhum cultivation extensively can pose threat to climate change. However, Dr. Vibha Dhawan, senior director of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), has ruled out the negative effect of practicing Jhum or the slash and burn practice of agriculture in Northeast Indian states.
Dr. Bhawan who is also the advisor for bio-resources and biotechnology to the Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal, when asked on extensive jhuming, which is prevalent in North East said, ‘People in the rural hills of Northeast for the most part engage in sustenance activities, with surplus produce sold in the market. The practice of Jhum is intimately integrated with the socio-economic fabric of rural society. It is sustainable and generally accepted.’
Deliberating on the ongoing World Sustainable Development Summit organised by TERI in New Delhi, she said that state governments in North East would need to work with local populations Jhum to mitigate the potential deleterious effects to the ecology rather than prevent shifting cultivation per se.
‘The governments of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have indicated at different levels that they would not like to suppress shifting cultivation, but rather work on ways in which it can be integrated with ecological and conservation concerns,’ Dr. Dhawan added.
Words- Syeda Ambia Jahan