Nagaon, Sept. 2: The Kuki National Assembly, an association of Kukis, today asked the Karbi Anglong autonomous council not to go forward with the proposed tiger reserve spread over 1,650 square km area in eastern and central Karbi Anglong, as it might disrupt the livelihood of 50,000 people.
The meeting took place near Karbi Anglong district headquarters Diphu.
“Most of the areas which the forest department wants to include in the tiger reserve and for eco-tourism projects is nothing but the agriculture belt of Kukis living in the foothills of Singhason hill. If the tiger reserve is set up there, at least 50,000 poor Kuki people will have to leave their agricultural work, which is the main source of their livelihood,” said KNA general secretary Tongthang Touthang.
The organisation today issued a press release, which stated that 80 per cent of the reserve area is used by farmers for ginger cultivation and the “killing project” might push these people to starvation.
The proposed reserve area falls under two wildlife sanctuaries and seven reserve forests. The area is home to three communities — Kuki, Hrengma and Karbi.
According to a forest office record, at least 95 per cent of the Khondamon reserve forest area of 450 square km is used by Kukis for ginger cultivation and the forest has been chalked out as the core area of the tiger reserve.
The plan of the tiger reserve, which would become the biggest reserve in India, was proposed by the state forest department to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
A meeting of the autonomous council, NTCA representatives and forest minister Rakibul Hussain, on the issue will be held in Diphu soon.
A source in the Karbi Anglong forest department said people living in the buffer areas would not be asked to leave but nobody would be permitted to carry on work in the core area, once the reserve is announced.
“Actually, the tiger reserve is being opposed by people as they feel their livelihood will be lost. The reserve and eco-tourism project will be done in a way which will definitely involve people living in the buffer areas,” the source said.