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Govt proposes elephant reserve

Shillong, March 19: The Meghalaya government today claimed that people could derive various benefits from an elephant reserve while clarifying that land where such reserves would come up would remain with the public.

During question hour in the state Assembly, forest minister Prestone Tynsong said there was an intention to declare parts of West Khasi Hills and South West Khasi Hills as the “Khasi Hills Elephant Reserve”.

Replying to supplementary questions raised by HSPDP legislator Witting Mawsor, the forest minister said there are around 179 villages, which would come under the elephant reserve. However, Tynsong clarified that there would be no human displacement.

“The Centre has agreed to the proposal of having the Khasi Hills Elephant Reserve, but we have to carry along all the stakeholders. There has been some misconception among the villagers about the ownership of the land. However, the government is not going to acquire the land for the reserve, and the ownership of land will remain with the villagers,” the forest minister said.

While pointing out that Meghalaya so far has one elephant reserve in Garo hills, Tynsong said the annual “benefits” from an elephant reserve was tremendous.

“Different states in the country approach the Union ministry of environment and forests to declare some of the areas in their states as elephant reserves because of the benefits,” he said.