KAZIRANGA, May 14 - Relentless efforts by the forest department, wildlife conservationists and legal experts finally helped Kaziranga National Park (KNP) formally get the evicted land of Bandardubi and Deosur, which was handed over on Wednesday night at the office of the Kaliabor subdivisional officer (civil).
Terming it a historic day for the entire KNP team, park director P Shiva Kumar said Bandardubi and Deosur areas were rhino bearing areas till 1953. Even now, at least 11 rhinos and other wildlife are being seen grazing there, which indicates that the evicted land of Bandardubi and Deosur have been always a core part of KNP.
According to sources, with the passage of time, subsequently Bandardubi and Deosur were taken over for non-forest purposes by people with vested interests. In the early part of the 1980s, the areas were marked and handed over for forest purposes, but again in the later part of the 1980s, those areas were used for non-forest purposes, which gradually led to human settlements.
In September 2016, Bandardubi and Deosur had been evicted by the government as per an order of the Gauhati High Court. But even after more than three years, the evicted portion was not formally handed over to the KNP, as there were still many people with vested interests who did not want the land to be part of KNP.
There was also no clear indication from the Kaliabor civil administration as to when the evicted land would be handed over to the KNP.
A report in The Assam Tribune, dated February 6, 2020 spoke of the non-transfer of the already evicted land of Bandardubi and Deosur to the wildlife division of Kaziranga, following which the wheels started rolling in Dispur to ensure smooth handing over of the evicted land. Subsequently, the Nagaon Deputy Commissioner in a letter dated February 18, 2020 issued order to the Kaliabor circle office to make arrangements for smooth handing over of the evicted land to the KNP.
Accordingly, a joint survey was carried out by the Kaliabor subdivisional administration and the forest department in the evicted land.
Part of the evicted land, which was again encroached by people with vested interests to carry out illegal fishing, were again cleared out for actual demarcation of the boundary of KNP.
Sources said there has been constant pressure from people with vested interests who were trying their best so that the KNP does not get hold of the evicted land. But with the Sarbananda Sonowal government staying firm on the issue, the Kaliabor subdivisional administration finally handed over the evicted land formally to KNP on Wednesday night, after senior forest and civil officials formally signed the document.