BISWANATH CHARIALI, Nov 13 - Around 80 per cent land of the Biswanath, Naduar and Gohpur Reserve Forests, under East Sonitpur Forest Division, exists only on paper. Similarly, around 6,000 hectares of the Behali Reserve Forest, which had an area of around 140 square kilometres or around 14,000 hectares earlier, is under encroachment. This was informed by Subhashish Das, Divisional Forest Officer, East Sonitpur Forest Division, to a group of journalists who visited the Behali Reserve Forest, famous for its biodiversity and the rare animals and birds, recently.
It may be mentioned here that this reserve forest has been targeted by encroachers, which include people from Arunachal Pradesh and locals, since 1981. A case (Government of Assam versus the Union of India and the Government of Arunachal Pradesh) has since been filed in the Supreme Court and the final verdict is awaited.
It is alleged that a huge part of the reserve forest at Tarasu area has already been encroached by people from Arunachal Pradesh and churches, schools, hostels, Revenue Circle Office, private residences, etc., have come up there.
It is now alleged that the encroachers are eyeing the lands at Chauldhoa and Radhasu.
This reserve forest, which is situated along the Assam-Arunachal border, had faced several attacks by suspected Arunachali encroachers for many years now and around 20 innocent lives have already been lost and numerous others injured.
Moreover, erosion by Diring River is also posing a threat to the reserve forest at Hati Depot.
After the recent attacks at Chauldhoa and Naharjan, the Assam Government has tightened security inside the reserve forest, particularly at Radhasu, Dikal and Naharjan. Forest security camps were established there and around 250 armed personnel of the IRBn, Forest Battalion and Eco Task Forest are guarding the area.
Personnel of the Eco Task Forest have planted 290 saplings at Bihmari area and a road connecting Sangola (Borgang), Dikal, Chauldhoa, Radhasu, Naharjan and Bihmari has been proposed at an estimated amount of Rs 22 crore for maintaining communication and security of the reserve forest.