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Dibru-Saikhowa facings problems with residents

By CORRESPONDENT
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TINSUKIA, July 7 � Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary with an area of about 340 sq km engulfed by the mighty Brahmaputra in the north and Dibru river in the south making it almost a river island except for a narrow strip near Saikhowa with existing two human habitats namely Laika and Dodhia within its precincts got the national park status in the year 1999.

The existence of human habitats with a population of about 10,000 within the national park has become not only a legal and technical problem for the park authority but these villages are creating management problems also. The villagers depend mostly upon the forest products of the park and time to time allegation are brought against them that they are indulging in poaching of wild animals, felling trees, harbouring poachers, helping illegal timber traders and fishing within the park etc. Though there is a proposal for shifting these villages to another places but it could not be materialised due to political and social problems.

However, on the contrary, these villagers who mostly belong to Mising community, allege that they are being treated as second class citizens as they are not getting benefits of any schemes under the rural development agency or from the Forest department. According to the Forest department, these villages do not have any entity after the area was declared to be a national park because as per law no human habitat can exist inside a national park and as such conflict between the park authority and the villagers always exists.

To come to a mutual understanding and to cohabitate in such a strange situation till a permanent solution is found a discussion was arranged between the park authority and the villagers at Laika Pamua on July 4 on the occasion of ongoing Vanmahotsav Week with the initiative of the divisional forest officer (wildlife) Tinsukia, Aniruddha Dey. The discussion was also attended by the range officer, Dibru range of the park and representatives of NGOs. The villagers submitted a memorandum enlisting various problems of their day to day life as well as of socio-economic improvement and the DFO discussed the matters of the memorandum point wise then and there. The DFO also clearly stated that to protect and to manage the park the villages had to be shifted as segregation of villages from the park would not solve the problem as these villages did not have any other communication than through the park which would always make the park vulnerable in respect of the security of wildlife and he appealed to the villagers not to indulge in any antipark activities till they live inside the park. He also requested the villagers to come into some mutual adjustment with the proposals provided by the district authority which would help both of them and the park which is a national property.

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Dibru-Saikhowa facings problems with residents

TINSUKIA, July 7 � Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary with an area of about 340 sq km engulfed by the mighty Brahmaputra in the north and Dibru river in the south making it almost a river island except for a narrow strip near Saikhowa with existing two human habitats namely Laika and Dodhia within its precincts got the national park status in the year 1999.

The existence of human habitats with a population of about 10,000 within the national park has become not only a legal and technical problem for the park authority but these villages are creating management problems also. The villagers depend mostly upon the forest products of the park and time to time allegation are brought against them that they are indulging in poaching of wild animals, felling trees, harbouring poachers, helping illegal timber traders and fishing within the park etc. Though there is a proposal for shifting these villages to another places but it could not be materialised due to political and social problems.

However, on the contrary, these villagers who mostly belong to Mising community, allege that they are being treated as second class citizens as they are not getting benefits of any schemes under the rural development agency or from the Forest department. According to the Forest department, these villages do not have any entity after the area was declared to be a national park because as per law no human habitat can exist inside a national park and as such conflict between the park authority and the villagers always exists.

To come to a mutual understanding and to cohabitate in such a strange situation till a permanent solution is found a discussion was arranged between the park authority and the villagers at Laika Pamua on July 4 on the occasion of ongoing Vanmahotsav Week with the initiative of the divisional forest officer (wildlife) Tinsukia, Aniruddha Dey. The discussion was also attended by the range officer, Dibru range of the park and representatives of NGOs. The villagers submitted a memorandum enlisting various problems of their day to day life as well as of socio-economic improvement and the DFO discussed the matters of the memorandum point wise then and there. The DFO also clearly stated that to protect and to manage the park the villages had to be shifted as segregation of villages from the park would not solve the problem as these villages did not have any other communication than through the park which would always make the park vulnerable in respect of the security of wildlife and he appealed to the villagers not to indulge in any antipark activities till they live inside the park. He also requested the villagers to come into some mutual adjustment with the proposals provided by the district authority which would help both of them and the park which is a national property.

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