Eco-Task Force yet to be deployed
GUWAHATI: Non-deployment of the Eco-Task Force (Territorial Army) in the Manas National Park has come in the way of carrying out an eviction drive against fresh encroachments at the park.
A few years back under the tiger conservation plan of the Manas National Park, it was proposed to deploy a company of 135 Eco-Task Force in the park and the State Forest department was requested to initiate the process.
The State Forest department has not yet sanctioned funds to raise the Eco-Task Force due to the reasons best known to Dispur. A Forest department official said his department is keen on raising the force. The Finance department has not approved the necessary funds for the same, he said.
The development has come at a time when the Centre recently pointed that some areas of the Manas National Park had been re-encroached in the absence of adequate staff. The Centre has mentioned about fresh encroachment at Manas in its park’s conservation report and sent to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) for examination. The issue will be put up for discussion in the committee’s Manas National Park session this year.
Even though an eviction drive was carried out at Bhuyanpara on December 22, 2016, clearing around 1,600 hectares of the encroached land, the encroachers, however, returned, thereby derailing the process. In the second phase of the eviction drive in February 2017, local residents opposed the attempt and the Forest authorities could not prevent it.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has already told the Centre year that it should clear the Manas National Park from encroachment if it wanted to put the park on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The Centre’s report has also mentioned that no rhino has been killed in the Manas National Park since 2016. In the Panbari range, located outside the park, a tiger was killed in July 2017, but all the poachers were arrested immediately and sent to court.
“The park authority has formed a number of eco-development committees and their relationship with the fringe villagers has improved. The villagers are supporting the management to protect and conserve the park,” the report said.