TINSUKIA: The Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK), MMK and the TMMK are at loggerheads with the Forest department over the number of bona-fide Laika-Dodhia families identified for their resettlement outside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
This is despite Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's assurance on the rehabilitation of the forest villagers. Uncertainty continues to haunt the forest villagers 262 of whom have been tagged as "encroachers".
Unless the fate of these "additional families" is taken into account, the relocation issue would remain contentious.
Speaking to The Sentinel, Minturaaj Morang, advisor of the Laika-Dodhia Rehabilitation Committee and vice president of TMPK said that they would not vacate the makeshift camps, nor would they stop their peaceful protest till the Government, including the Chief Minister, assured them of taking concrete measures in writing. He asked the rationale behind the Forest department preparing two lists, overlapping each other without assessing its ramifications. According to him, such a step will leave the forest villagers in despair, besides posing a serious threat to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park from anthropogenic interference. Even the lists were not explicit, Morang said.
The present unrest came to the fore after the Forest department furnished a list containing a number of households based on population census of 2019 which was shown as 572 in Laika and 908 in Dodhia, totalling 1,480 families. It was followed by another list based on the 'jamanbandi' of 1978 and descendents of the original families that reduced the number from 1,480 to 1,218 (Laika-543, Dodhia-675) treating 262 other families as encroachers. The proposal of the Forest department specified that only 1,218 families should be taken into consideration during relocation.
However, during the past three decades a good number of families unable to bear miserable life either shifted to other places or relocated in Tinsukia district in places like Jagun and Namphai. Around 100 families were rehabilitated near Tirap in 1986 (The Sentinel report of March17, 1996) of which 35 were in Longtong and the rest were believed to be somewhere near Udaipur as the families did not cooperate with survey officials, according to official sources. The official record further revealed that while 63 families settled at grazing land/government land in Bazaltuli near the DC office, 66 families occupied No. 5 Guijan grazing land, as per survey reports.
According to Minturaaj Morang, a good number of families returned to forest village and abandoned the land but did not sell out to others, as alleged.
The TMPK contended that deletion of 262 families was unethical and unjust. They say that 1,480 families should be taken into consideration and the department has the liberty to delete the beneficiaries after thorough cross-checking to ensure that the families do not enjoy double benefits provided 'families settled elsewhere must be regularized in-situ'.
Morang added that the Government must take steps for the repeal of the Supreme Court order of 2011 banning diversion of forest grazing land as a special case for disgruntled forest villagers of Laika-Dodhia
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