GUWAHATI, Dec 3 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has been urged by RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury to revoke the State government�s decision to allot 250 bighas of government land to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in the vicinity of the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) for setting up the office of the NDRF�s 1st Battalion.
In his December 2, 2020 letter to the Chief Minister, Choudhury said that allotment of the land near the Amchang WLS, an ideal habitat of elephants, will amplify the man-elephant conflict in the area, and also lead to problems similar to those being faced by the Narengi Military Station.
Choudhury referred to the January 5, 2017 letter of the Divisional Forest Officer, Guwahati Wildlife Division, to the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro), which read, �... the plot of land allotted to the 1st Bn NDRF at Amching NC is literally a forest area having beautiful forest cover and is contiguous to Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary almost in the middle part of it. The entire landscape with the plot of land allotted to NDRF is used by wild animals including elephants of Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary as an ideal habitat...
�...the proposal to fell a large number of trees with a huge quantity of earth-cutting at the site is going to alter the environment adversely for the wild animals in situ and in the contiguous Wildlife Sanctuary. That action will result in more conflict between the fringe villagers and wild animals...�
Besides several other official communications of the Forest department�s officials on the issue, Choudhury also quoted the DFO, Guwahati Wildlife Division�s August 28, 2019 letter to the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (M).
It stated that the plot of land allotted to the NDRF is literally a forest area as was evident from satellite images available on Google Earth. It is located almost within the Amchang WLS eco-sensitive zone and this allotment will virtually lead to fragmentation of Block II of the WLS in two parts and add to man-animal conflict in the fringe areas, besides making the future inhabitants of the NDRF campus vulnerable to elephant depredation.
Choudhury requested the Chief Minister to cancel the land allotment, considering its importance for the Amchang WLS and provide the NDRF an alternative plot away from the wildlife sanctuary in the greater interest of wildlife conservation.
A copy of the letter was also sent to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.