GUWAHATI, July 29 - About 20 years back, a working plan prepared by a senior forest official, suggested handing over of Bagser Reserve Forest (RF) to the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) authorities for its strategic importance. But, it is yet to be done.
The forest area on the southern side of the National Highway-37, between Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and Karbi Anglong, falls under Jakhalabandha Forest Beat Office of the Nagaon (Territorial) Forest Division, which is placed under the Northern Assam Circle (NAC) of the Forest Department. The NAC is headquartered at Salna on the north bank of the Brahmaputra. There is only one forest camp � Menchang� to look after the entire area comprising the Bagser RF and Deosur Hill Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF). The manpower or infrastructure placed under the Nagaon Territorial (T) Division to ensure security of this forest area, is grossly inadequate.
Majority of the rhino poaching attempts in KNP come from the southern side. This multiplies during monsoon, as, a number of rhinos move to the southern side along with other wild animals. Due to issues of infrastructure and manpower, managing the security of migrating KNP animals becomes extremely difficult during monsoon. Out of the nine KNP animal corridors, seven are in this area. In view of annual floods and increasing wildlife population, seamless integration of the area between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong with KNP is vital for bringing about a landscape level management.
The above information comes from the May 21, 2020 letter of the KNP Director (No KNP/FG.848/KTR/Bagser RF) to the State�s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) and Head of the Forest Force (HoFF). The KNP Director also referred to the working plan prepared by the then DFO, Nagaon Territorial Division SK Srivastava for 2000-2001 to 2009-2010, which placed Bagser under �Protection Working Circle.� Srivastava suggested steps to hand over Bagser and Kukurakata RFs to KNP for better protection of the rhinoceroses.
Considering its importance for the animals migrating between KNP and Karbi Anglong, Bagser RF was declared �Buffer Area of KNP� (Assam Gazette Notification No FRW-6/2007/23) on August 3, 2007. The State Government on April 17, 2003 had notified (No No.FRW.44/2002/64) Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve, of which Bagser RF is a part.
The DFO, Nagaon Territorial Division requested the Conservator of Forests, NAC (Letter No FNGT/A/Reserve Forest/2019-20/801-04 dated March 17, 2020) to provide necessary permission to hand over Bagser RF to the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division for improving road connectivity, increasing the number of anti-poaching camps and adding adequate number of manpower. �He also temporarily handed over the Menchang APC to Eastern Assam Wildlife Division vide his letter No. FNGT/A/Wildlife/2020/870 dated 23rd March/2020,� said the KNP Director in his above letter. Following this letter, a meeting was held, with the State�s PCCF & HoFF in the chair, on June 3, 2020 at the Nagaon Territorial Division�s meeting hall on insurgency in Bagser and Deosur Forests and transfer of this area to the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division.
The five decisions it adopted were 1) DFO, Nagaon Territorial Division to submit a proposal for construction of two barracks under CAMPA (compensatory afforestation) scheme and to post at least 10 staff in these camps; 2) DFO, Nagaon Wildlife Division to submit a proposal for shifting of division headquarters from Nagaon to Kaliabor with proper usage of existing buildings, KNP Director to provide necessary fund through Project Tiger and from Kaziranga Tiger Conservation Foundation; 3) Sri M K Yadava (IFS) to prepare a holistic long-term plan covering area lost due to erosion and adjoining area to be added and additional area to be purchased for KNP and the same to be submitted to the Government to preserve and protect KNP; 4) Director, KNP to make arrangement for convening a meeting at Kohora to discuss revival of tourism in a novel way; 5) DFO under Wildlife Wing to utilise the fund available under CAMPA scheme to improve the habitat and infrastructure. Bagser was not mentioned in the decisions.