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
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Guwahati Municipal Corporation
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
National Public School
Legislations Involved in the Conflict:
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Lack of legal protection over land rights
Name(s) of Court(s)
National Green Tribunal
Nature of Protest
Campaigns (Grassroots organisations/press releases/media), Media based activism/alternative media , Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Reported Details of the Violation:
Date of Violation
Location of Violation
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?