Move to create Eco-Sensitive Zone of Kaziranga National Park opposed

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Socheng Dhenta people seek KAAC’s intervention to remove ESZ tag

HT Bureau

BALIJURI, April 7:People of Socheng Dhenta MAC constituency on Sunday demanded Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) to stop the move of extension of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) with introduction of Eco-Sensitive Zone, in which a large chunk of land under Socheng Dhenta MAC constituency would be included into the national park.

“The people of Socheng Dhenta are living in fear as when the Karbi hills close to KNP will be included into KNP. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed to include 10 km area of Karbi hills into the national park by declaring as Eco-Sensitive Zone,” former EM Mohen Bey said.

In 2011 Rohit Chaudhury of Bokakhat filed a petition with the NGT stating that due to extensive extraction of forest resources and encroachment of forest areas for human settlement, the wildlife living inside the Kaziranga are being threatened. The Karbis and other communities have been living since before the setting up of KNP, he said.

“Chasing them out from the present settlement for the sake of extension of Kaziranga and declaring as Eco-Sensitive Zone would become landless,” Bey said.

“Through an RTI we have come to know that the NGT is ready to take up the extension of park and declaration of the area as Eco-Sensitive Zone. This is the major problem of this place and I request to our CEM and Horensing Bey to take up the matter for redresal so that our people do not become homeless in their own land,” Bey said.

KAAC CEM Tuliram Ronghang along, former MLA Bidyasing Engleng and EM Kache Rongpipi were in Balijur to kick off election campaign for BJP candidate Horensing Bey in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Acting on a complaint filed by RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury before it, the NTCA sent a team to make an on-the-spot study of the stone mining activities in the Karbi Anglong hills adjacent to KNP. The team made field visits in this connection on January 11 and 12, 2018.

Based on the report of this team, Raja Ram Singh, Assistant Inspector General of Forests (NTCA) has written to the Chief Secretary of Assam, “…I am directed to request you to kindly take immediate action as appropriate to stop the mining, quarrying, stone crusher activities in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape as they are seriously hampering survival and conservation of tiger, its habitats, co-predators, prey including mega harbivores and their transit routes during annual flood season.”

The NTCA has also asked for immediate submission of the Tiger Conservation Plan of Kaziranga Tiger Reserve by the State government, stating that it is mandated under Section 38V of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 to continue funding assistance under the CSS-PT.

The NTCA team that visited the site has observed that stone mining/quarrying and stone crushers established in the intervening area between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong hills are responsible for destruction of wildlife corridors and vital wildlife habitat which is essential for long ranging species like Indian elephants and tigers.

“In addition, these stone mining/quarrying and stone crushers are also responsible for drying and siltation of several natural streams and rivulets that flow from Karbi Anglong hills towards Kaziranga. Considering the destructive impacts of quarrying/mining activity all the stone mining/quarrying and crusher units need to be closed down immediately.

“If these destructive activities are not stopped immediately then there is a high risk of Kaziranga National Park losing its corridor and habitat connectivity with larger Karbi Anglong landscape permanently,” the team observed in its report.

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