Encroachment of Deepor Beel Threatens Livelihood of 1,200 Families in Assam

Reported by

Nazimuddin Siddique

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

March 12, 2020

March 12, 2020

Updated on

March 12, 2020

Location of Conflict

Guwahati

Kamrup Metropolitan

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Encroachment by Non-Right Holders (Other than Caste-based)

(

Wildlife Sanctuary

)

People Affected by Conflict

5760

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

3500

ha

Starting Year

State

Assam

Sector

Land Use

Deepor Beel, a freshwater lake covering an area of 40 square kilometres, is located in the south-west of Guwahati city in Kamrup metropolitan district. In 1989, the Assam government declared 4.14 square kilometres of the total area a bird sanctuary, and in 2002, Deepor Beel was listed as a Ramsar site, one of the three in northeast India. Encroachment over the years has threatened the survival of both the Beel and the people dependent on it. The size of the Beel has been shrinking at an unprecedented scale. According to a media report, once spread over 4,000 hectares, the Beel has now shrunk to 500 hectares. A few years earlier, National Public School authorities had encroached some areas of Deepor Beel, constructing around 20 structures and a wall, but they were demolished in 2015 on the orders of the Kamrup (Metro) district administration. A Times of India report quotes the order as saying, The NPS authorities have destroyed the water body by earth-filling and erecting boundary walls, disturbing the natural flow of Pamohi drains. They have caused damage to the Beels biodiversity and ecosystem. Such encroachment threatens the livelihood of at least 1,200 families living around the Beel. Besides fishing and tourism, these families generate income by selling nymphaea nuts and flowers as well as medicinal plants and seeds of water lilies growing in the waters of Deepor Beel. But these sources of income are unlikely to sustain if the Beel continues to be encroached. Garbage dumping is another problem. A dumping ground by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) at Boragaon adjacent to the Beel is polluting the waters, which is affecting the lake's flora and marine life. This, in turn, affects the number of migratory birds visiting the Beel, who depend on the fish for food. If some day fishes become extinct from the Beel and migratory birds stop coming, encroachment will erase Deepor Beel from the map, a conservationist told the media.  In January 2006, nine storks were found dead, which might have been caused by toxic wastes. The site now faces various anthropogenic threats, primarily from the development of industries within the periphery of the site, illegal hunting of wild animals and deforestation, Bibhab Talukdar of Aaranyak, an environmental organisation in Assam, told the media. The Boragaon dumping ground was supposed to be shifted to Chandrapur in 2015, but no action has been taken until now. On April 29, 2019, the National Green Tribunal ordered the state government to shift the dumping site within two months, after a petition was filed by Rohit Choudhury, an environmental activist. Following the order, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed the GMC in May to submit reports in two months on converting the waste to manure by setting up a waste treatment plant. GMC officials could not be reached for comments despite repeated phone calls by LCW.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land), Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Media-based activism/alternative media

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Guwahati Municipal Corporation

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

National Public School

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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