Sanctuary settlers violently evicted

Eviction with no rehabilitation

Freestyle

December 7, 2017

/ By / Kolkata



Elephants being used by the ranger to destroy houses in the sanctuary (Source- Reuters)

Elephants being used by the ranger to destroy houses in the sanctuary (Source- Reuters)

Over 700 families were violently evicted from the Amchang Wild Sanctuaries with the use of elephants in a bid to protect the eco-sensitive zone

Guwahati high court’s decision to evict alleged illegal settlers of the 37 villages settled in the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary (AWS) came after hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO named Early Birds in August. Over 700 families have been rendered homeless in the three-day eviction process.

The Indian police took an unusual step, reportedly, 1,500 policemen carried out the eviction on November 27, 28 and 29 using elephants along with 300 labourers and bulldozers, in order to tackle the stone pelting protesting locals, who saw their homes being destroyed helplessly along with other establishments such as schools and places of worship.

On November 29, the state government requested the high court to put a stay on the eviction drive, as protests were carried out by the Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK), an organisation of Mishing students against the Sonowal government and rehabilitation was also a big concern. A government press release said, “The Additional Advocate General informed the High Court that as school examinations are going on and winter is intensifying, the government had to think over the eviction drive. The CM is also considering the issue of rehabilitation of the evicted people and finalisation of modalities for this would take some time.”

AWS, located in the eastern part of Kamrup district in Guwahati, is home to 250 species of birds and approximately 44 mammal species. The sanctuary was recently declared an eco-sensitive zone (ECZ) by an expert committee set up under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). MK Yadava, representing the state government on Amchang, in a meeting, proposed the expansion of the protected area of Amchang from 78.64 square kilometres to 109.99 square kilometres. Yadava said, “No comments were received from stakeholders/public (opposing or providing feedback on the issue).”

“This is a hard thing to take a stand on. On one hand, flora and fauna have limited land resources and they need protection. On the other, people need more land as their population grows and expands. It’s sad on both sides,” Said Shreya Podder, ecological and sustainable development sciences student at TISS, Guwahati.

A similar case happened in 2016, two people were reportedly killed and 17 injured, including 15 police officers, when protesters clashed with authorities during an elephant-led demolition drive in Kaziranga national park.

Amchang was declared a wildlife sanctuary by the state government in 2004, bringing together three forests; Amchang reserve forest, South Amchang forest reserve and Khanapara reserve forest.

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