Golaghat: At a time when the Ministry of Forest has claimed that adequate steps have been taken for protection and safety of wildlife and environment and the Supreme Court of India has ordered to stop construction activities in eco-sensitive areas around national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests of the country, some people are allegedly involved in construction activities in such prohibited areas.
The Nambor Reserve Forest is located 12-km away from the headquarters of Golaghat district administration. Yet illegal construction activities are going on at Nambor Reserve Forest by a section of some unscrupulous businessmen by violating the rules and regulations of Forest Act.
There are two tea factories in the eco-sensitive zone at Nambor Reserve Forest. These tea factories have constructed high boundary walls with sharp-edged blade fencing on the elephant corridors. As a result, the wild animals are forced to seek alternative routes resulting in increase in elephant-human conflict in the nearby areas.
The alleged construction activities on the prohibited area are causing disturbances in the behaviour and movement of the wild animals and the construction of the tea factories are having a dangerous effect on wild animals.
Several organizations and conscious citizens have been opposing the construction activities that are being carried out very near to the Nambor Reserve Forest. But the authority concerned has not taken any initiative against the construction activities in the eco-sensitive zone. Interestingly in 2016, the Range Officer of Golaghat Range under Golaghat Divisional Forest Office issued an order No. F/ESZ/2016/1456-57 dated 11/11/2016 to stop construction activities near the Nambor Forest at Murphulani Tini area which falls within the eco-sensitive zone. The Range Officer clearly mentioned in the order that any kind of construction activity was prohibited in the area. Despite this, Luhit Tea Company Pvt Ltd allegedly neglected all rules and regulations and continued construction activities in the prohibited area. Notably, under the ‘Wildlife Conservation Strategy 2002’, point number 9 envisages that ‘land falling within kilometres of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries should be notified as eco-fragile zones under Section 3 (v) of the Environment (Protection) Act and Rule 5 Sub rule (viii) & (x) of the Environment (Protection) Rules’. Any kind of construction activity is prohibited in the eco-sensitive areas.
The construction of a tea factory on the elephant corridor of Nambor Reserve Forest has been seriously disturbing the behaviour and obstructing the movements of wild elephants along the traditional migratory route as the wall is acting as a huge physical barrier to their movements. Consequently, the human-elephant conflict has been increasing in the nearby villages. Very recently, carcasses of three elephants were found at different places in Golaghat district. It is suspected that the elephants died due to infection caused by injury from the sharp-edged blade fencing erected in the boundary wall of tea factories at elephant corridors. Wildlife activists and animal lovers have appealed to the government to take immediate action to protect the elephant routes.