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NGOs oppose govt’s land-patta move

Dhubri, Jan. 16: Several environmental organisations in lower Assam districts have opposed the Assam government’s move to allot land patta to the people living in the forest and wetland areas of the state.

They argued that this move not only affects bio-diversity and ecological balance but also encourages the encroachers to settle in forest and wetlands areas of the state.

Aranya Suraksha Samiti and Nature’s Friends, which are spearheading the movement for preservation and protection of wetlands and forests of lower Assam for quite a long time, have strongly opposed the demand recently raised by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) for land pattas to the landless irrespective of protected areas in the state.

“Assam is known to the world for its rich bio-diversity and habitat of numerous aves, fauna and flora, including some rare and endangered species of birds, mammals and aquatic creatures. And if the areas where landless people have been living are given as land pattas, it would create an adverse effect on the environment and the serene nature and ecological balance of this region will be jeopardised,” said Aranya Suraksha Samiti secretary Haricharan Das.

Das also said under the Forest Dwellers Act, 1986, only the tribal people living in the forest villages were allowed to stay but no other community enjoys this right. Even the tribal people are not allowed to live in forest villages that fall under critical habitats of animals, he added.

While opposing the move of the government to give land pattas to the landless people around Guwahati, Das said these people are not tribals and forest and wetland areas should not be allotted to them. A memorandum to stop this move has been sent to chief minister Tarun Gogoi by the organisation a few days ago, Das said.

Director of Nature’s Friends of Dhubri district, Kulodhar Das, also vehemently opposed the move of the government.

Das said in view of growing demands across the globe to protect waterbodies, besides the awareness among people of the country and Assam for the same, the government should stop this move.