This information is taken from Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) Lawngtlai District

Lawngtlai district has the following areas of advantages and strengths which enabled it to propel itself on to a higher level of trajectory of economic development if these strengths are fully exploited:

5.1 Agriculture:
In this sector, the agro-climatic condition of the district favours the development of all kinds of horticultural crops. This conclusion is drawn in accordance with the findings of Agro-Climatic Regional planning (ACRP) exercise undertaken by the Planning Commission since 1988. The ACRP take in to account resource endowments, strategies for balanced regional development, comparative advantages, and choice of priority activities for the region, infrastructure needs and investment in its approach. The findings of ACRP regarding the district points out that the strategies for agricultural development are through soil and water conservation and settled farming. In addition, there has been a paradigm shift in the State government’s Agriculture policy from the practice of mono-crop cultivation of land use through shifting cultivation to diversification of crops by introducing location-specific crops through settled farming. A follow-up policy called New Land Use policy is chalked out and implemented with limited success. However, the drawback of this new policy is its adoption of the strategy of area targeting for the implementation zone, which left out majority of the district of Mizoram including Lawngtlai District. In recent years, the State Government is making great stride towards bringing land under horticulture crops through a new policy –Mizoram Intodelh Project. Even this policy suffered from certain limit like its outreach, especially in respect of Lawngtlai District due to the latter inaccessibility, remoteness, lack of good road infrastructure etc. Therefore, it is proposed that funds under RSVY may be channelized towards development of horticulture in which it is endowed with favorable climate and topography.

5.1.2 Another strength lies in the availability of flat land for Wet Rice Cultivation. Out of the total flat land of 50000 ha which constituted about 1 % of total geographical area of Mizoram, the district has about 8993.17 hectares(as per the findings of State remote Sensing center studies) of flat land .Most of these flat land are located in the western part of the district where Tuichawng river,Chhimtuipui River, Ngengpui river and Thega river traverse the land .Here Chamdur valley, Tuichawng Valley, Ngengpui valley and Thega valley offer great potential for the development of WRC provided they are equipped with good irrigation system and improved land development measures.

5.1.3 Another strength of the district is that it is well endowed with good drainage system and abundant rainfall. Major rivers of Mizoram like Chhimtuipui river, Tuichawng River, Ngengpui River and Thega River as well as minor ones like Tuiphal, Sekulh, Chikhurlui and Sahri offer great potential for development of minor irrigation. Moreover the region receives one of the highest average rainfall in India at about 250-300 cm .Both this factor will play a crucial role in the development of the agriculture sector of the district .

5.1.4 Another strength of the district is the possibility of transforming farming practices along the lines of organic farming by using only manures since consumption of fertilizers has always been negligible. Organic farming is a production system that avoids or largely excludes the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and growth regulators. Instead, it relies upon crop rotation with leguminous crops, addition of crop residues, green manures, biofertilisers and biopesticides. The objectives of encouraging organic farming in the District are to develop a sustainable agriculture system which maintains soil fertility and ensures adequate food production. Besides it is well recognized that organic products are preferred to conventional agriculture products due to the absence of harmful chemical residues in it.

5.2 Infrastructure:
For development of infrastructure, the district strength lies in its rivers where there is immense scope for the development of hydro electric power projects. Chhimtuipui hydro electric power project is taken up by Central water Commission .If this project is materialized, and then it will greatly boost the productivity of the district which is currently at a very low level due to inadequate power supply to producing units.

5.2.2 Another areas of strength is due to its strategic location, the district has great potential for the development of inland waterways along the Chhimtuipui river .This in turn will facilitate the expansion of interconnectivity with neighboring countries like Myanmar. Recently, there has been a proposal of waterway from Hruitezawl to Akyap Sea Port for the facilitation of border trade with Myanmar. RITES Company had been engaged to prepare detailed project report on this proposal .Another likely outcome, if this project is successful, is that sea route from Hruitezawl to Kolkotta can be developed and this will in turn bring about socio-economic well being to the people through expansion of trade and services.

5.2.3 Another strength of the district lies in the availability of fresh water sources like streams and rivers which are perennial in nature for the expansion of rural water supply to interior part of the region.

5.2.4 Another strength of the district is the availability of basic community assets like community halls and playgrounds. According to the report of Mizoram Statistical Handbook, 2003, the District has 31 community halls where as Saiha has only 9 and Kolasib has only 19. The district also has 61 playgrounds where as Serchhip has about 38, Saiha 23and Kolasib has 34.This is crucial for the development of backward tribes who constantly need social cohesion and cooperation in protecting and safeguarding their interests. Most of the village studies conducted by Sociologists established the correlation between community assets and social cohesion and cooperation. The availability of community assets like community Halls provide people a place for frequent interaction at a short notice .This in turn build close intimacy, cooperation and cohesion among the people. However, it should be added that, the present condition of all the community assets are in a very pathetic state. They are very likely to be an economic waste unless a swift intervention is taken through RSVY.

5.3. Administrative Set up:
Another great strength of the district is the presence of two Autonomous District Councils viz.Lai Autonomous district Council (LADC) and Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) in the district. These two Autonomous councils along with the Office of the Deputy Commissioner and other line departments acts as implementing agency, apart from other important functions, of various Socio-economic development Programmes of both the State and the Central government. Besides, these semi-government bodies along with the State Government account for 85 percent of total workforce engaged in services and continue to provide employment opportunities on a regular basis.

Despite all the areas of strength mentioned above, the district suffered from various weaknesses .The following are some of the areas of weaknesses:

5.4.1. Agriculture: In this sector, the district faced constraints in the form of:
High run off of water, increasing depletion of ground water due to excessive exploitation, depletion of fertility of soil due to ‘jhum’ cultivation, expansion of wasteland and inundation due to frequent change of course by the rivers.

5.4.2 Lack of quality seed and planting material.

5.4.3 Inadequate post harvest infrastructure and unorganized market.

5.4.4 Lack of systematic records of land and surveys especially cadastral survey.

5.4.5 High cost of inputs, little scope for farm mechanization, suitability of only minor irrigation and exorbitant cost of transport.

5.4.6 Destructive practice of Jhuming cultivation.

5.4.7 Lack of accurate data on stock of inventory and limited research and development activities by concerned departments.

5.4.8 Lack of rain water harvesting structures to supplement meager water supply during lean season for consumption and agricultural purposes.

5.4.9 Lack of awareness on the part of the farmers regarding seeds, soil conditions, weather etc.

5.4.10 Lack of proper land use planning.

5.5 Infrastructure:

5.5.1 The communication network especially the roads are in bad shape. Even the roads which traverse through major economic centers like Lawngtlai, Bungtlang, Chawngte and Paithar are in dilapidated state. There are certain economic centers which have the most deplorable road connectivity like Chamdur, Vathuampui, Longpuighat and Vaseikai. Even Chawnhu village, which lies adjacent to Lawngtlai town, continues to be deprived of good road connectivity although it has great potential in coffee plantation. Most of the region where WRC has been successfully practices on a limited scale still faced the problem of good road connectivity which hampers their economic prosperity to a great extends. Most of the villages in the western belt and within Chawngte Block are inaccessible especially in rainy seasons due to frequent landslide and improper management. There has always been a dire necessity to improve the road network to help the people of remote areas of the district.

5.5.2 Even in health sector, the district lack minimum facilities to cope with the problems in the form of communicable diseases as well as water-borne diseases due to lack of proper sanitation facilities, safe drinking water and basic health services. As is well known, the climatic condition of the district, which is tropical in nature favours well for the breeding ground of various diseases. Even the district capital has only Community Health Center with accommodation capacity of 30 bedded which hardly cater the need of the people. It has few medical equipments and is deprived of necessary equipments like Endoscopy, Ultra Sonic Machine, Dental X-Ray machine, Generator and host of items. The district is facing not of lack of knowledge and skilled personnel but of minimum basic facilities and equipments and service outlets to deal with host of diseases which take a huge toll on the lives of the people especially children. The district has one of the highest child mortality rates, maternal mortality rate, one of the lowest inmmunization coverage, and low rate of institutional delivery. Another point which needs immediate attention is lack of nutritional support to both the expectant mother and children of the rural poor. ICDS has been actively making efforts in providing nutritional support but the outreach is still very limited with few facilities. The district has one of the highest incidences of malnourished children in India. The district posed problem of lack of staff quarter to the present health staff and limited outreach of sub centers.

5.5.3 In the power sector, the pace of distribution lines penetration is rather slow. Due to negligence, most of the installed facilities like wires get wasted and stolen. Also there is ignorance about economizing use of power and this caused a huge drain on the existing installed capacity. Lack of supply of power in the western belt and strategic locations where potential areas have been identified for agriculture, horticulture, post harvest infrastructure and waterways hampers the process of the much desired balanced economic development of the district.

5.5.4 The current rural water supply system is insufficient to meet the demand of the rural people. Lack of safe and clean drinking water is one of the leading factors which are responsible of high death rate in the remote region. The district frequently witnessed outbreak of dreaded diseases like Cholera .In 2004, there has been incidence of outbreak of dysentery at Ngunling Khua where about 6 people lost their lives. Other diseases like malaria, typhoid etc is still rampant in the district .The educational institution, Anganwadi centers and Sub centers also do not have good water supply system as well as storage facilities for certain necessary medicines like vaccines. This is a serious concern for the welfare of women and children.

5.5.5 Another nagging problem is lack of social infrastructures like vocational training institutes and hostel especially for uneducated womenfolk and uneducated rural youth. They are backward due to their low literacy, low social position, poor health etc. They have little opportunities to support themselves. This calls for vocational training institutes like Tailoring school and repair workshops as well as Hostel for Girl child attending schools at the principal town so as to protect them from sexual harassment and helping them get better lives.

The district is inhabited by various tribes such as Lai, Chakma, Pang and Bru. The Lai tribe inhabited the more advanced area in the north and eastern part of the district. The chakma inhabited the southern part. Bulk of the population of the two autonomous District councils viz,. LADC and CADC are the Lai and Chakma respectively. Since they had their own Autonomous Councils, they are economically and socially developed than the other two. The pang and Bru inhabited the western part of the district. Since the region is inaccessible due to dearth of good communication infrastructure like roads, devoid of basic social amenities like sub centers and primitive method of cultivation, they remains backward for decades.

Most of the villages inhabited by these two tribes are located at the low lying region between hill ranges, preferably near a river or stream. Before the British period, Mizoram remained purely under the control of chiefs with their separate jurisdiction of a few villages. There was a vast area of deep forest which could not be easily accessed by a few inhabitants of the region. Such places were therefore, free from the administrative control of the Lai chiefs. This had provided a safe settlement for the Bru and Pang.
The reason why the Bru and Pang use to select village site in low lying area is obviously due to their fondness of river, stream and brook from where they can easily fetch fish, crabs, snails etc for curry. Also a settlement in a low place gives them a less tiresome task of carrying jhum products and collection of daily needs like firewood, and jungle fruits .They do not have any formal proceeding required to be observed or performed in settling down at any place. Their frequent migration from place to place caused formation of small and new villages at various places making them inaccessible for the implementation of various developmental activities.

Normally these tribes move to their jhum house where they undertake jhuming cultivation .After harvest, either they go back to their village or settled in other area. The idea of a temporary settlement in a jhum house appears to be to avoid wastage of time and tiresome work of going and coming between their village and jhum. Generally a family stay in their jhum house from weeding season till finishing of harvest or sometime exhaustion of all their produces. The late leaving of a jhum house is also to minimize the load of jhum product which is being consumed at the jhum house itself. The more they consumed the lesser they have to carry to their home. So during a period of their stray in their jhum house, they vacated their house in the village and live with all their cattle, fowls pigs etc. This state of living condition made them to live a sort of nomadic life and a condition which no development scheme can be undertaken. It is therefore, required to make them aware of the necessity of having permanent settlement so that any development programmes can be projected, implemented and monitored by the agencies of both the State and Central Governments. There have been tremendous efforts from both the State and two District Councils towards improving the condition of these two tribes. But the success achieved is rather limited. They are the most backward tribes among tribal of India and even though there is limited data to authenticate this observation, their condition is deplorable and need immediate and specific interventions towards their development.

The District Level Committee on RSVY after much consultation and deliberations arrived at a consensus in identifying the following sectors as Lead sectors and calls for specific intervention from RSVY scheme to bridge the critical gap between potential and actual in each of these sectors.

5.7.1 Agriculture & Allied Activities: Critical gaps to be filled are in areas of land development, irrigation, intensification of land use by introducing terracing, diversification of crops towards horticultural crops and promotion of region-specific and crop-specific approach to farming. In addition, emphasized is given on augmenting rural income through fishery.

5.7.2 Human recourses development: Critical gaps to be filled are in areas of upgradation of educational institutions, provision of computer and its accessories to selected High schools, establishing model village at Laitlang through resettlement of five villages inhabited by mostly Bru and Pang for their socio-economic development, providing livelihood support to farming communities engage in other economic activities to supplement their income by enhancing revolving fund and giving training in each specific line of activities and Providing facilities to Anganwadi centers for the welfare of the children and expectant mother.

5.7.3 Social infrastructure: Gaps to be filled in this sectors are in areas of establishing community assets like playground, community hall ,Auditorium, establishing vocational training institute, Rural water supply and Establishing internet connection of V-SAT dish at District computer School for school children, establishing information kiosk at selected villages, Town development through retaining wall, clearing of drainage system, construction of minor bridges as well as providing line departments with internet connection.

5.7.4 Health: In this sector gaps to be filled are installation of medical equipment like Endoscopy, Ultrasonic Machine, Dental X-Ray Machine, Generator etc, and construction of additional building at Lawngtlai CHC, and strengthening of rural health delivery outlets so as to make improvement in immunization coverage, lower infant and maternal mortality ratio and behavioral change of the people towards health.

5.7.5 Road: In this sector gaps to be filled are in areas of horticulture link roads, internal roads, habitation connectivity, upgradation of existing roads and creation of connectivity that link up potential areas, educational centers and medical outlets etc.

5.7.6 Upliftment of backward tribe: Under this sector, gaps identified are laying out Resettlement plan for the socio –economic development of backward tribes like Bru and Pang at Laitlang village by grouping five hamlets. They will be provided with basic social services like, water supply, community hall, sub centers and infrastructure like power supply and road connectivity at proposed model Village –Laitlang. It was hoped that this plan will bring about behavioral change among Bru and Pang from their living pattern of nomad to a more settled farming communities.

5.7.6 Power: Under this sector, gaps to be filled are extension of distribution lines to potential areas identified like Laitlang, Tuithumhnar, Ajasora and installation of renewable sources of energy to selected places within Lawngtlai and Chawngte.