GUWAHATI, March 18 � Expressing grave concern over the unabated destruction of the State�s forests and the resultant loss of biodiversity and damage to the environment, public activist Prof Deven Dutta has stated that the Kaziranga-centric model of conservation pursued by the State Government was spelling doom for a vast majority of the forests.
�Barring very few exceptions like Kaziranga which too is not entirely free from the ills plaguing conservation, almost all the forests of the State are facing a bleak future due to large-scale encroachment and illegal logging. Vast tracts of reserve forests have completely been wiped out in recent years,� Prof Dutta said.
Prof Dutta said that Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain �who was in his second term as Forest Minister � was singularly responsible for the sorry state of forest management in the State, and that �he ought to have been sacked by the Chief Minister by now.�
Prof Dutta said that the much-trumpeted success of one Kaziranga or Pobitora contrasted sharply with the widespread degradation of most other forests. �A section of forest officials are amassing wealth through corrupt practices while the frontline staffs continue to languish for want of even the basic amenities. And all this is happening with tacit approval of the Forest Minister,� he added.
Pointing out that many of the State's forests could have emerged as top destinations but for the utter neglect meted out to those, Prof Dutta said that the practice of keeping the forests out of bound for visitors smacked of a �sinister and purposeful design� aimed at plundering forest wealth.
Prof Dutta suggested that the Forest Department would do well to strengthen forest security by inducting more guards and provide them with facilities rather than throwing dust on the people�s eyes through farces like elephant football.
Prof Dutta said that forests and wildlife were intrinsically linked to the State�s culture and heritage � so much so that parting with this invaluable asset would render the holding of festivals such as Bihu irrelevant and meaningless.
Prof Dutta said that erosion by the rivers which was now being acknowledged as a most serious problem was largely attributable to large-scale deforestation all over the State.
�If the Chief Minister is indeed as serious about checking erosion as he proclaims to be, he should exhibit his sincerity by according top priority to protection of forests,� he said.
Regretting that the political parties and other organizations, including conservation bodies, had failed to pressurize the Government into action, Prof Dutta said that the only way to save the remaining forests was to launch a mass movement involving every segment of society.
Prof Dutta further said that a holistic population policy aimed at checking the rapid growth in human numbers was also imperative to lessen the pressure on forests. �Unfortunately, the political class shies away from such thinking to promote their vote-bank politics,� he added.