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Wildlife sanctuaries in Assam under threat from encroachers

Encroachers have posed a serious threat to some of the 19 wildlife sanctuaries in the state.


Sentinel Digital Desk

 District administrations ready for massive eviction drive in Bura Chapori


GUWAHATI: Encroachers have posed a serious threat to some of the 19 wildlife sanctuaries in the state. Encroachment has shrunk the habitats of wildlife drastically.

Encroachment is rampant in wildlife sanctuaries like Bura Chapori, Laokhowa, Amchang, Barnadi, Nambor, Chakrasila, Barail etc.

According to official sources, around 5,000 bighas of land are under encroachment in Bura Chapori alone. The Forest department and district administrations are ready to carry out a massive eviction drive in the Sanctuary. The PCCF-Wildlife (Principal Chief Conservator of Forest) MK Yadav visited the Sanctuary with top officials yesterday and took stock of the encroachment.

According to official sources, Lathimari Sar, Xeeyali Sar, Baghatapur sar etc., under Bura Chapori Sanctuary are under rampant encroachment by the members of a particular community hailing from Nagaon and Morigaon districts. The Sanctuary is in Nagaon Forest Division and Tezpur Sadar Circle. The government declared Bura Chapori as a reserve forest in 1974 and as a wildlife sanctuary in 1995. It has an area of around 44 sq km.

According to official sources, the government declares wildlife sanctuaries but stops short of taking measures to protect them from encroachers. It leads to slow and steady encroachment of forest lands by people residing nearby.

A retired forest official said, "According to 2019 official data, there is a population of around 65 lakhs in the forest-fringe villages in the state. With the increase in population, these people slowly encroach upon forest lands nearby. A section of people with doubtful nationality also encroaches upon forest lands. The government should carry out massive eviction drives the way it evicted encroachers from the Pabho Reserve Forest recently."

According to sources, the government is firm that it will evict encroachers from wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests. Sources said Bura Chapori was famous for tiger, leopard, hog deer, Bengal Florican, black-neck stork, mallard (wild duck), Openbill stork, etc. "Forest sector is playing a vital role in the state economy. Despite its large potentialities, the government is not taking adequate initiatives to protect reserve forests," an official said.

Also Read: HYCPA demands Assam government to be strict against encroachers

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