By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Nov 29: Coordition Committee of Tribal Organizations, Assam (CCTOA) chief coorditor Aditya Khakhlari has said that the current eviction drive in Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary is the outcome of a cunning ploy by State forest officials.
Talking to the media in Guwahati on Wednesday, Khakhlari said: “Gauhati High did ask Dispur to make Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary free from encroachment. The high court, however, issued no order for the eviction revenue villages under the eco-sensitive zone. The evicted villages have been revenue villages under the eco-sensitive zones as demarcated by the Government of India. Besides misleading the Chief Minister and the State Forest Minister, forest officials also misled the Gauhati High Court. The revenue villages under eco-sensitive zones as demarcated by the Centre aren’t under Amchang Reserve Forest. The purpose behind the eviction is something different. Thirty per cent green cover is a must if Guwahati is to be tagged as a smart city. In order to make Guwahati a smart city, the forest officials hatched a plan to include revenue villages under the Amchang Reserve Forest by violating the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Amchang was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 2004 including Amchang forest, Khapara and South Anchang Forest. However, till February 7, 2017 the Forest and the Revenue departments didn’t conduct any joint survey. When the notification for the declaration of Amchang as a wildlife sanctuary was issued, the villagers in the nearby revenue villages were kept in dark by the Forest officials. Hence these revenue villages can never be parts of the wildlife sanctuary declared in 2004.”
Khakhlari further said: “The Forest Department has cunningly demarcated the boundary of the reserved forest cunningly with Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping. While declaring Amchang Reserve Forest as an eco-sensitive zone, 37 revenue villages were included in the notification for that. We demand a high-level inquiry into the ill-motive of the Forest department officials for the demolition drive carried out. We also demand rehabilitation and adequate compensation to the evicted families.”