Environmentalists, Wildlife Activists Oppose Land Allotment to NDRF near Assam's Amchang Sanctuary

Reported by

Sarup Sinha

Published on

March 31, 2021

March 31, 2021

Updated on

March 31, 2021

Location of Conflict

Guwahati

Narengi Army Cantonment

Kamrup

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Environmental/Ecological Damage

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

33

ha

Starting Year

2020

State

Assam

Sector

Land Use

Environmental activists and the forest department of the state have opposed the proposed allotment of 82 acres of land next to Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary (AWS) to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the accommodation of its 1st Battalion. Spread across an area of 78.64 square kilometres on the eastern fringe of Guwahati, the sanctuary is home to several endangered and rare wildlife species and hosts a sizeable elephant population. It has been pointed out that the Narengi Military Station, which shares its border with the sanctuary, has witnessed humanwildlife conflicts in the past, in which about 50 elephants have lost their lives. Environmentalists and wildlife activists fear that any further allotment of land will worsen the situation. In 2019, the Assam government set up AntiDepedration Squads to tackle the rising cases of humanwildlife conflicts in the state. The Minutes of the 24th Expert Committee Meeting for the Declaration of EcoSensitive Zone of the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, held on February 2728, 2017, show that Amchang was among the eight protected areas proposed by the state to be declared an Ecosensitive Zone (ESZ). Although its exact status could not be confirmed, a statement attributed to a forest official by the media suggests that AWS has been declared an ESZ and that the proposed land for allotment falls under the same zone. In December 2020, environmentalist Rohit Choudhury wrote a letter to Chief Minister Sarbanada Sonowal stressing the ecological significance of AWS while asking his government to cancel the proposed allotment. Citing correspondences with the forest department, the letter stated that the land allotment may pose a threat to the wildlife habitat and human settlements near the sanctuary. Soon, other wildlife activists and the All Assam Students Union, too, expressed their concern about the proposed allotment. It was also revealed through an RTI filed by Choudhury that Major General Jarken Gamlin, the Commanding General Officer of Headquarters, Narengi Cantonment, had written a letter to the state government on July 3, 2020, seeking either relocation of elephants from the sanctuary or compensation of INR 15 lakh for property damage. The local media reported that several leading wildlife experts and organisations had rejected the Armys proposal calling it impractical. Rathin Barman, joint director of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), was quoted as saying. Massive resources, mechanism, funds and expertise will be required to relocate wild animals from Amchang. Kaushik Baruah, a wildlife conservationist, told the media that elephants were always there. The base came later. The entire area was once part of the Amchang forest. India has the worlds largest (60 per cent approximately) number of Wild Asian elephants. Every year, over 500 humans get killed in encounters with elephants while more than 100 elephants die because of humanrelated activities. 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Cancellation of proposed land allotment

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-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

Environmental Laws, Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [This section restricts the use of forestland for non-forest purpose]
Disaster Management Act, 2005
Section 44 [This section provides for constitution of National Disaster Response Force for response to a disaster situation]
Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
Section 18 [This section empowers state governments to declare any area other than reserve forest or its territorial waters as a sanctuary]; Section 30 [This section prohibits causing fire to any part of a sanctuary so as to endanger it] Section 32 [This section restricts the use of injurious substances which includes chemicals, explosives etc., which may pose danger to wildlife]
Environment Protection Rules, 1986
Rule 5 [This rule empowers the Centre to prohibit or restrict the location of industries and certain activities based on environmental factors and emission standards etc.] Guideline 6 under ESZ Guidelines [This rule states the procedure to be followed in regulating activities around wildlife sanctuaries or national parks]
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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.

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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:

Violation of environmental laws

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

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)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Assam

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:

All Assam Students' Union, Wildlife Trust of India

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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Updated By

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