HC reprieve for Akhil Gogoi’s orchid park; Court stays eviction order, Next hearing on August 20

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, July 11: The Gauhati High Court on Wednesday stayed the Assam government’s move to carry out an eviction drive at the Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park set up by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).

A single bench judge comprising Justice Ujjal Bhuyan passed the order hearing a PIL filed by the president of Orchid and Biodiversity Park Cooperative Society, Ratan Dao. The court has fixed August 20 for the next date of hearing of the case.

The Assam government had recently asked the orchid park management committee to vacate its 6.1 bigha of land within seven days, failing which an eviction drive would be carried out for alleged encroachment. In the notice issued on Thursday, the Golaghat district administration said inspection by the administration following a police complaint recently had revealed that the park authorities had encroached upon the land in addition to 22 bighas allotted to them by the administration.

The encroached land has a museum of Nepali community, a bamboo park and a waterbody for boating. Set up in November 2015 by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), the park is run by a cooperative society. It has more than 500 species of rare orchids besides local varieties of flowers and fruits and ethnic food.

One can also get a slice of indigenous communities’ life-style besides other attractions. It has provided direct employment to 84 local youths.

The earlier Congress government had allotted 22 bighas to the park, but it faced criticism from the BJP-led government which came to power in May 2016.

Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia on Tuesday moved chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, seeking his intervention over the eviction notice served to the park. In a letter on Tuesday, Saikia, urged the state government to add six-odd bighas of land to the pending proposal pertaining to the park. In the letter Saikia said, “Since 22 bighas have already been proposed for allotment, the natural courses of action for the government ought to be to allot the additional six – of land to the park, keeping in view the fact that it is an innovative initiative and a rare success story in so far as the cooperative sector is concerned.”

Describing the establishment as an asset for the state, he said, “I would like to request your personal intervention into the matter in order to ensure that the government’s displeasure with Akhil Gogoi does not result in harm being done to an inspirational initiative like the orchid park.”

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