GUWAHATI, May 10 - Finally, it seems that the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) will get possession of Deurchur Chang, Palkhowa and Banderdubi areas, covered by its seventh and eighth additions. For several years, the KNP authorities have been trying to get possession over these areas.
Things went to such a pass that the Gauhati High Court had to intervene in the matter and issue an order to free these areas from encroachment. The High Court order came in the wake of the suo motu PILs (66/2012, 67/2012) and Writ Petitions (Civil) (648/2013 and 4860/2013). Following the High Court order, the encroached areas of Deurchur Chang and Palkhowa were freed from encroachment on September 19, 2016. An amount of Rs 14.7 crore was also distributed among the around 300 evicted families.
Later, a joint survey was conducted by the Revenue and the Forest Departments in these areas on February 11 and 12 this year. Simultaneously, the boundary of the evicted areas was also demarcated. During the joint survey, the re-encroachment at Banderdubi area too was cleared.
However, the civil administration of Kaliabor subdivision was unable to hand over these areas to the KNP authorities due to pressure from some people of the neighbouring localities. The proposal for notification of the KNP seventh and the eighth additions did not cover any human habitation or settlement areas. Only the evicted areas, Proposed Reserved Forests (PRF), Un-classed State Forests (USF) and government land were there in the proposal, as these areas are prime wildlife habitat-cum-corridors.
The proposed seventh addition of the KNP is part of the Deosur, Chirang and Amguri Animal Corridors and contiguous to the KNP�s first addition. This area connects KNP with the Bagser Reserve Forest and forested areas of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. This region was initially proposed as part of the KNP�s first addition, but, subsequently dropped from the final notification.
The Ghorakati Range, Burapahar, along with two anti-poaching camps and tongis of the KNP are located in the USF land area. This area is located between the old and new NH-37. KNP animals regularly use it.
Deosur Proposed Hill Reserve Forest is presently under Nagaon Territorial Division of the Forest Department. It is contiguous to the KNP�s Burapahar Range. It is a natural highland. Wild animals take shelter here during the floods. It has natural vegetation to feed the wild animals. This proposed addition will facilitate the migration of the KNP animals to the Karbi Anglong Hills and will thus help in conserving the KNP�s endangered species.
In their bids to get possession of these areas, KNP authorities have been dashing off letters to the revenue authorities.
On May 5, 2020, Minister Keshab Mahanta, who also represents Kaliabor as an MLA, held a meeting with the belligerent people, who are resisting the proposal for inclusion of these areas in KNP, in the presence of the Forest and Revenue officials.
In the meeting, the belligerent people called for dividing the above areas into three zones of activities related with forestry, tourism and revenue administration. However, persuasions from the Minister and the officials of the Forest and Revenue Departments finally made them agree to the idea of KNP�s acquisition of these areas, but with the condition to apply effective measures for saving their lives and property from the depredation of the wild animals.
The meeting decided that the KNP authorities would submit a plan to the Kaliabor civil administration on May 10, 2020 for ensuring safety of the life and property of the people living in the localities adjacent to these areas. KNP Director P Shivkumar exuded the hope that following submission of this plan, KNP would be able to acquire the above areas within a week�s time.