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

Reported by

Nazimuddin SiddiqueLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

March 28, 2020

Location of Conflict

,

Kamrup Metropolitan

Reason or Cause of Conflict

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

(

Wildlife Sanctuary

)

People Affected by Conflict

5760

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

3500

ha

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 Guwahati Plus.   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 Down To Earth. 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 Land Conflict Watch.

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land), Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

3500

ha

Starting Year

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Assam

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

National Public School

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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