MIRZA, Dec 27 � Environmental activist groups have urged the Assam Government to declare the vibrant Chandubi Forests consisting of Borduar, Mayong and Mataikhar Reserve Forests ( RFs) as Wildlife Sanctuary for conservation of the endangered wildlife and forests comprising of trees, shrubs and herbs.
Talking to this correspondent, an official of MAN & WILD, a social and environmental activist group of North East India, has said that they had been demanding the Assam Government for the past seven years to declare the lush green forests surrounding the Chandubi lake ( water body), including Borduar, Mayong and Mataikar Reserve Forests, as wildlife sanctuary which will not only protect the flora and fauna and also usher in economic development of the forest villagers living in the fringe of the three reserve forests.
�We had formally submitted a memorandum before the then Forest Minister of Assam, Pradyut Bordoloi on January 1, 2006, demanding to notify the forests comprising Borduar , Mayong and Mataikhar RFs which encircle the famous tectonic Chandubi lake as wildlife sanctuary so as to protect the flora and fauna of the area. We have also submitted a detailed survey report of the wildlife of the forest reserves of the Chandubi area. Several discussions were also held with senior forests officials at PCCF, CCF , and DFO level and the rich biodiversity potential of the area were highlighted before them. A headway was achieved when Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury, the then Joint Secretary of Forests, Assam , visited the Chandubi beel and its adjoining forests in 2003-2004 and understanding the potential, he directed the then Divisional Forests Officer (DFO), Kamrup West Forests Division to submit a proposal for declaring the area as wildlife sanctuary. The then DFO had submitted the proposal requesting for declaring the Chandubi area as wildlife sanctuary before the then CCF (Wildlife), Assam MC Malakar. It is also reported that senior forest officials had asked Bhupen Talukdar, former ranger of Kaziranga National Park who is a well-known wildlife expert, to inquire whether the Chandubi forests could be declared as wildlife sanctuary or not. It is not known whether Talukdar had submitted his report or not, but since then the proposal for wildlife sanctuary covering Chandubi forests has been lying under the carpet at the Assam Forests Headquarter and nothing has been done so far,� lamented the official of MAN & WILD.
Sources said that Chandubi forests were thriving with some of the best tree species including teak, sal , gamari, titachap etc which were always required by the Assam Government for construction and other purposes and that those trees were not abundantly available in other Reserve Forests (RF) of Assam except a few.
�If the Chandubi forests are declared as wildlife sanctuary, then those valuable big trees could never be felled and used for any purpose . Hence, Assam Government is reluctant to declare the Forests surrounding Chandubi lake as wildlife sanctuary and the sanctuary proposal issue is pending for several years at the cost of the endangered wildlife there,� said a former Honorary Wildlife Warden, pleading anonymity.
As per survey conducted by MAN & WILD during 2004-2006, the deeply forested RFs in Chandubi area comprising low undulating hills covered with deciduous forests and patches of evergreen forests in Loharghat Forest Range under Kamrup West Forest Division in the south bank of the Brahmaputra river close to the foothills of Meghalaya plateau is habitat of some of the critically endangered species including hoolock gibbon, golden langur, rhesus macaque, leopard, leopard cat, clouded leopard, barking deer, sambar, wild pig, Chinese pangolin, Asiatic elephant, Malayan giant squirrel, slow loris, hog-badger, horry bamboo rat, Himalayan black bear, yellow throated morten, Chinese porcupine , rufous- tailed hare , jungle cat , large Indian civet , etc . There were reports of gharials and tigers roaming in the Chandubi beel and its adjoining forests once.
Among reptiles king cobra, branded crait, rock python, viper, common monitor, water monitor, keeled box turtle, brown hill tortoise, Asian leaf turtle etc are there in Chandubi forests. The survey has reported that over 200 species of birds have been reported in the Chandubi and its adjoining forests which include white cheeked partridge, khaleej pheasant, grey peacock pheasant, green imperial pigeon, blyth�s kingfisher, great pied hornbill, black baza, black eagle, hill myna, black headed oriole, red breasted parakeet, bronzed-winged jacana, lesser adjutant stork etc.
Assam Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi alongwith Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain had visited the Chandubi lake and its adjoining forests recently. It is reported the Chief Minister was enthralled by the beauty of the lake and its adjoining forests. According to sources of the Forest department, the Chief Minister has stressed on launching livelihood interventions without disturbing the biodiversity of the Chandubi lake. It was not known whether the Chief Minister was informed of the proposal of Wildlife Sanctuary involving Chandubi and its adjoining forests.
Ironically, the Assam government has failed to tap the vast tourism potential to highlight the glory of Chandubi. The tourist bungalow at south side of the beel and the ecotourism camp set up by Wave Ecotourism at Joramukhuria village remain almost empty round the year, except in peak period as Assam Government has failed to publicise the beauty of the nature, although it is situated just 65 km away from the gate of the Northeast, sources said.