GUWAHATI, May 29 � In a significant development, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) allotted houses to 19 families of Ram Terang village in a lottery draw to set up a model Karbi village. These families had voluntarily decided to relocate from the Ram Terang village located within the Kalapahar-Doigrung (KD) elephant corridor to a site near Sar Kro village as part of community-based conservation initiatives undertaken to reduce dependence on the corridor. Voluntary relocation of the Ram Terang villagers is the most important component of the WTI project aimed at securing the KD elephant corridor.
The draw was organised by the WTI team in the presence of Pradip Singnar, Executive Member in-charge of Environment and Forest, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, Khoi Terang, headman, Ram Terang village, forest officials and residents of the village.
The 19 households will also be given additional land for agriculture to further minimise their dependence on corridor resources. �The lottery draw was initiated before the construction of the houses so that villagers can actively participate in the construction phase and take ownership of these houses,� said Dilip Deori, Project Lead, WTI. The lucky draw for the villagers took place on May 25 at the relocation site.
The Ram Terang village relocation plan will be endorsed by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council for execution, thereby creating a model of rehabilitation for conservation in Karbi Anglong to be followed at other places in future. The design for the construction of typical Karbi houses is being prepared by local architects in consultation with the villagers. Once the houses and other amenities are provided at the rehabilitation site, the villagers will move into their new dwellings.
�The exercise was conceptualised with an objective of bringing a strong sense of belongingness among the villages towards the relocation process, especially from the start of the construction of their new houses. The process will strengthen the bond among all the 19 families and they will start dreaming of their lives in the relocated area. They should inspect the process themselves, start planting trees around and be an integral part of the whole process,� a WTI official said.
The village of Ram Terang, named after the head of the village, is situated right in the middle of the corridor, giving rise to frequent man-elephant conflict with regular loss of crops and property of the villagers, besides human and elephant casualties.
Supported by the Elephant Family, IUCN-Netherlands and Japan Tiger Elephant Fund (JTEF), the initiative will help secure the corridor used by elephants to move between Kalapahar and the Doigrung Nambor Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape. Securing elephant corridors is a significant component of the WTI�s Karbi Anglong Conservation Project.
Pradip Singnar, in his address, stated that the villagers of Ram Terang were lucky to have been chosen by the WTI for relocation and rehabilitation. He added, �It is not the WTI�s or the Government�s duty alone to save elephants, it is also the duty of every individual to come forward so that man-animal co-existence can be achieved.�
A woman from the village said, �The WTI is doing good work in providing new opportunities to the villagers, but we will be grateful if the WTI can also build a prayer house and a school.� After the lottery draw, Singnar planted two saplings of Mesua ferrea (nahar) in front of the community hall. Later, he personally inspected the dwelling units.
The Kalapahar-Doigrung elephant corridor is located about 22 km from Silonijan (Karbi Anglong) on the Silonijan-Chokikhola tract, and connects Kalapahar with the Doigrung-Nambor Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kaziranga National Park.