GUWAHATI, Sept 21 - The recent eviction near the Kaziranga National Park will help in checking poaching inside the Park as there had been reports that the poachers used to take shelter in the residences of some of the villagers, said Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma. She also warned that encroachments of the wildlife sanctuaries and reserved forests would not be tolerated and called upon all sections of people not to try and take political mileage out of the issue.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Brahma said that according to information available, the poachers mostly used to enter Kaziranga through Karbi Anglong or they came by river through Biswanath Chariali area. They used to take shelter in the villages near the National Park to survey the area before entering the park to kill rhinos, she said. She expressed the hope that the eviction would definitely help in checking poaching by a great extent.
Brahma said that over the years, successive Governments did not take any action to evict the encroachers and the Court order strengthened the hands of the Government to go ahead with the eviction drive. She said that the Government would have to submit the action taken report to the High Court on September 24.
The Minister asserted that the Government would not tolerate encroachment of the wildlife sanctuaries and reserved forests of the State. She said that the forest cover must be maintained in the interest of the future generations and no one should try to take political mileage out of the situation. She admitted that over the years, some political parties tried to use the encroachers as vote banks and even electricity connections were given illegally to the encroachers. She pointed out that even the Amsang wildlife sanctuary, which is located near Guwahati faced severe threat from encroachers, while, the hills around the city were also encroached.
Brahma revealed that the Government would soon start a proper survey of the wildlife sanctuaries and reserved forests and proper pillars would be installed in phased manner. Once the process is completed, it would be easier to identify and evict the encroachers, she added. However, at the same time, she admitted that the Government would have to take a sympathetic approach to the persons who have been staying in forest land for a long time.
The Minister lamented that some people and organizations have been trying to divide the encroachers on the basis of religion and caste. In this regard, she hit out against the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi and said that he has always been instigating the encroachers. �I feel that Akhil Gogoi should be arrested for his actions,� she added.
Brahma further said that all the Forest officials have been directed to maintain strict vigil to prevent fresh encroachments and efforts are being made to post right people at the right place. She admitted that shortage of manpower is a problem faced by the Forest Department and immediate steps would be taken to fill up the vacant posts and afterwards, efforts would be made to increase the strength of the Forest personnel in a phased manner.