GUWAHATI, June 12 � Urging all concerned including the Government, political parties and different organisations to shun their �double standards� and �misleading ploys� concerning the grave issue of eviction of encroachers from forestland and other government land, public activist Prof Deven Dutta today said that large-scale encroachment was creating an alarming situation in the State but the opportunistic stands of successive governments and different parties and organisations stemming largely from their vested interests were complicating the situation further.
�On the one hand, successive governments, political parties and other organisations (both political and non-political) call for protection of forests, wildlife, biodiversity and the environment and on the other, the same apostles would support the illegal encroachers by siding with them when it comes to evicting them. They would demand a solution to artificial floods in the city and at the same time would support those illegally settling on hills and wetlands and drains�these are double standards,� Prof Dutta said, adding that such a stand was creating a situation of chaos and confusion.
Wondering whether Assam would be rendered a desert-like land through a systematic annihilation of its forests where man alone would be the living entity after annihilating all its famed wildlife and biodiversity, Prof Dutta said that the time had come for all to face the question why wildlife such as elephants, leopards, tigers, bears, etc., were increasingly straying into human habitation and whether the problem could be solved by bludgeoning and poisoning the helpless animals to death.
Referring to Friday�s eviction drive that had to be abandoned in the face of violent resistance by the encroachers at Garchuk area, Prof Dutta said that Garchuk was part of a historic rampart with a biodiversity-rich forest called Garbhanga nearby.
�The Government should take every legal step to keep such places free from encroachment and remove the lacunae plaguing the eviction process,� he added.
Pointing out that the landless were free to apply for government land through a due process and not fall upon government land or forestland in their hordes, Prof Dutta said that unabated encroachment by both local people as well as outsiders, including from neighbouring countries, was pushing the State into the brink.
Questioning who had given the politicians the right to assure land pattas to illegal settlers, Prof Dutta said that nowhere else would one come across a land Act which �empowered� armed encroachers to coerce government authorities engaged in eviction drives into signing a written undertaking that no eviction would take place henceforth. �This happens only in Assam,� he added.
Prof Dutta also criticised the different government functionaries such as DCs, SPs and forest officials, saying that had they discharged their official obligations as per law and not toed the lines of their political masters, large-scale encroachments would not have been possible on forestland and government land.
Prof Dutta said that population explosion had been the biggest problem in the country which was having disturbing fallouts in different spheres but the political authorities were never serious in addressing the issue due to their politics of vote bank and communal appeasement.