JORHAT, Feb 7 � The thick forest of the vast land at Ao Sungthia of the Disoi Valley Reserve Forest beside the rivulet Chirakhati under Sonowal forest beat has been burnt down by Naga miscreants during the last few days. The forests on about seven hills in the disputed Assam-Nagaland border area were cleared by the miscreants for jhum cultivation.
Though the spot is only six kilometres away from the Mariani town and the Mariani Range Office, the Forest Department officials pitiably failed to stop the devastation of forest by the miscreants.
�The Naga miscreants are now preparing to burn down the forest on other hillocks of the nearby area of Ao Sungthia,� an eyewitness from the area told this correspondent.
It is pertinent to mention here that a vast forest land of the Tiru Hills Reserve Forest had been turned to ashes last year, but then too the Forest Department failed to conduct an inquiry into it.
According to a source, tea plantations are done on the vast cleared forest area in the Tiru Hills Reserve Forest. The owners of the plantation are forced to pay a certain amount of �tax� to the Nagas.
As per Naga custom, it is learnt, the chairman of the village council and head of the village (gaonburha) can determine the process the taxation. So, ultimately, these areas are bound to come within the revenue areas of the neighbouring State in course of time.
As many as 18 villages have been set up inside the two reserve forests of Assam � Disoi Valley and Tiru Hills Reserve Forest � by the Naga people till date. As the State Forest Department failed to stop the encroachment inside the reserve forest, the vast forest land gradually turned into populous Naga villages.