By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 31: The drive to clear encroachments in the additions of Kaziranga tiol Park has met a roadblock, with settlers, marshaled by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi, protesting the move. This is despite prodding by the Gauhati High Court to get the State government to clear encroachments in the park at the earliest.
Sub-divisiol authorities of Biswath and Bokakhat today launched simultaneous drives to clear the encroachments in the additiol areas of the park, but had to suspend it half-way in the wake of protests by the settlers.
Earlier, the Bich Chapori in the Sixth Addition of the park was cleared and handed over to the Forest department this morning. The eviction here was led by Biswath circle officer Tripurendra Pator. ACF P K Sarmah of KNP and other forest officials were also present.
A large contingent of police and paramilitary forces led by two ASPs assisted the administration in the eviction drive. It started from 8 AM and ended at 11 AM this morning. Eighteen huts used as buffalo sheds (mohor khuti) were demolished in the drive.
However, the eviction drive in the Third Addition was put on hold as settlers came out in large numbers to protest the move.
Led by peasant leader Akhil Gogoi, thousands of settlers of the Third Addition of the park marched from Borbeel to Kohora shouting slogans against the State government.
“To prevent the situation from deteriorating, the eviction drive was suspended,” said an official of the Bokakhat sub-division. Government officials held a meeting with the protestors and agreed that discussions will be held with settlers before carrying out further eviction.
Two days back, the Gauhati High Court expressed displeasure at the tardiness of the State government in evicting encroachers in the four additions of the park which are yet to be handed over to the Forest department.
The Gauhati High Court constituted high-powered committee, comprising officials from the Central and State government, had on Sunday conducted a survey of the encroachments in the park and had directed local authorities to clear them within one month.
The committee was led by Commissioner and Secretary (Revenue) PK Tiwari and it comprised a representative from the State Home department, IGP (border), MHA, NTCA and the Kaziranga Director.
During the day-long survey, the committee is understood to have detected several tracts in the additions that were under encroachment.
The park authorities had informed the committee that there are 380 cattle sheds (khutis) in the additions. There could be up 25-30 people in one such shed.
Encroachments were also found in the animal corridors at Bandardubi and Deusar areas.
Though the park authorities have been claiming that there were patta holders in the park areas, the committee reported cases in which the settlers were not the origil patta holders.
Last month, taking a tough stance, the tiol Green Tribul issued notices to commercial encroachers in Kaziranga tiol Park asking why they should not be made to pay compensation for damaging the environment.