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Ministry concern over degradation in Karbi hills

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  • Published 19.07.11

Jorhat/Guwahati, July 18: The Union ministry of environment and forests has expressed concern over environmental degradation along the hills of Karbi Anglong in proximity to Kaziranga National Park.

Former Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh had written to Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi last month, saying the ministry had been receiving a number of complaints on environmental deprivation in the hill areas of Karbi Anglong near Kaziranga because of stone crushers, illegal stone mining, encroachment and illicit felling of trees in recent times.

The minister, while seeking co-operation from Gogoi, had attached the report of a team that had inspected the said area, facing the national park.

The team comprised former Assam chief conservator of forests (wildlife) D.M. Singh, Rathin Barman of Wildlife Trust of India and Bibhab Kumar Talukdar of Aranyak. They had visited Kaziranga and the adjoining hills under Dolamara range of Karbi Anglong last year, according to directions from the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India, and met the complainants and local forest officials.

The inspection report said the whole area in question was a prime elephant habitat and part of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong elephant reserve. Hence, activities like felling of trees and stone or soil quarrying should not be permitted to keep the landscape fit for elephants and other forms of wildlife. “All the north-facing hills of Karbi Anglong along Kaziranga should be declared as a no development zone.”

The team found several stone-crushing machines next to the forest area and inside the reserve forest under Dolamara range of Karbi Anglong.

It also recommended that the Tea Board and Rubber Board should be advised not to encourage plantation of tea and rubber on the north-facing hills of Karbi Anglong to keep the landscape fit for ecological balance.

The ministry asked the state forest department to include Karbi Anglong while making the eco-sensitive zone for Kaziranga to keep it safe.

“We had sent the eco-sensitive zone proposal but it was sent back as Karbi Anglong was not included in it,” a Kaziranga park official said.

The basic aim of an eco- sensitive zone, which is an area of 10km around the park, is to regulate certain activities around national parks or wildlife sanctuaries so as to minimise the negative impacts on the fragile ecosystem.

The official said discussions need to be held with the Karbi Anglong autonomous district council as its assent is required to include the area in the eco-sensitive zone.