| Armed guards patrol a forest in Assam. File picture |
Guwahati, Aug. 20: Dispur is raising another battalion of the Assam Forest Protection Force for better protection and security of forests and wildlife in the state.
State forest and environment minister Rockybul Hussain today said the battalion, the second of its kind, would be stationed at Kaziranga National Park.
“Recruitment is on for the second battalion,” the minister told reporters. The total strength of the second battalion will be 787.
The first battalion was raised in 1984-85 and is stationed in the Basistha area here.
Hussain said 150 armed guards had already been posted at the park.
Sources said Delhi has also asked the state to constitute a special tiger protection force for tiger reserves for which 100 per cent central assistance would be provided.
The minister, while briefing reporters on the outcome of the two-day forest ministers’ conference that concluded in New Delhi yesterday, said Assam had been sanctioned Rs 6.7 crore under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority.
The planning authority is an instrument to accelerate activities for preservation of natural forests, management of wildlife, infrastructure development in the sector, et al.
A sizeable amount of funds had accrued to Assam for the past several years from various agencies towards compensatory afforestation that was lying with the Supreme Court. However, the deadlock was broken only recently.
“We would use the money for carrying out afforestation activities on 1,388 hectares of land,” Hussain said, adding that an authority would be constituted soon.
On the status of tigers in Kaziranga, the minister said camera trapping by city-based NGO Aaranyak had helped sight several tigers.
“Twenty-four tigers have been sighted in an area of 100 square km, which is a good sign,” he said.
Hussain said the ministry had also given in-principle approval under the National River Conservation Programme for pollution abatement work in two rivers — Bharalu in the city and Kolong in Nagaon. A sum of Rs 60 crore has been provided for Bharalu and Rs 30 crore for Kolong.
“The ministry has asked us to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for the projects. We have asked IIT Guwahati to prepare the DPR for us,” he added.