TEZPUR, July 23 � At a time when the Assam Government is taking up various policies to promote agriculture and biodiversity conservation in a major way, substantial tracts of fertile land, forest land and dwelling areas are being handed over to the Indian Army for purposes of conversion into a Defence armoury and extended air fields. An official source here disclosed that 2845.759 acres (8,608 bighas and two kathas of land) are going to be occupied by the Indian Army in Tezpur and its adjoining areas.
The Defence Ministry has already completed the process of acquisition of 1,000 acres of land at the Noor Bari Tea Estate, 3,40,140 acres of land at Thakurbari, 222.03 acres of land at Amaribari, 28.190 acres of land in the Phulbari area, 61.04 acres of land at the Harsura Tea Estate and 1,190 acres of land in the Kolamati area under Tezpur, Charduar and Dhekiajuli revenue circles in Sonitpur district. The Army�s 4 Corps located here has been handling these issues.
It may be mentioned here that the Sonitpur DC has already made all arrangements to provide no-objection certificates in this regard. An Army source here said that 1,000 acres of land at the Noor Bari Tea Estate, the present Salonibari air base of the Indian Army, would be extended. Likewise, a modern armoury would be set on a 1,190-acre land in the Kalamati area under the Missamari PS.
The local people living in these areas, who have been protesting against the move, said that 2845.759 acres of prime agricultural and residential land are going to be occupied by the Indian Army which may destroy the ecological balance and violate the land rights of the indigenous people.
�We are absolutely against the moves by the Indian Army and the district administration to capture our land and have approached various authorities including the local political representatives and the Sonitpur DC, but till date nothing positive has come out,� said Prasanta Boro, president, Tezpur district Boro Sahitya Sabha and Tepuram Boro, general secretary, Sonitpur district ABSU while talking about the problems in the Kolamati area. Several representations have been made to different authorities including the State Revenue Minister. �But pushing local concerns aside, the process has continued to acquire our land for the Army. At present, the Army is demarcating the land in the areas it plans to occupy so that construction activities can take place as early as possible,� the duo stated.
Expressing his resentment, Pulin Bhattacharya, president of �Save,� a peasants� organisation here, said that the Defence Ministry is going to acquire for the Army base here farming land spread over nearly 1.255 acres. �We see big trouble ahead. There would be displacement of people who have been dependent on farming for the last three to four generations. Many would lose their homes and we fear that a lot problems would arise for the people who are economically weak,� he maintained. AASU worker Jan Bora, in this regard, said that the land being taken over by the Army is fertile which the farmers have been cultivating without applying any manure. Loss of such land would be a tragedy in a State where agricultural land is diminishing every day, he added.
Most of the locals living in these areas, expressing their displeasure over the matter, said that the loss would extend to grazing land for cattle and fish production as the land to be taken over by the Army have grass patches that support livestock. Loss of this land will have a grave implication on the local residents as well as the environment. Inhabitants of these areas alleged that a section of unscrupulous people including Government officials here have created these problems.
�They will all gain at the expense of the people living in the areas mentioned above who will lose their land and livelihood once the Army moves in,� they complained.