National

UPROARING OF DEHING PATKAI RAIN FOREST

July 04, 2020 07:52 PM

Dr. Jagadindra Raychoudhury

In the world scenario, North East India, particularly Assam is a biologically hotspot area where biodiversity reaches its climax with verities of flora and fauna. It is a gift of nature and a state like Assam has the impact of Indo-Malayan, Indo-China characteristics contributing to its biodiversity.

Its climatic individuality offers diverse ecosystem ranging from different forest types like evergreen, rainforest, moist, deciduous forest, swamp and marshes along with wetland and river system that can maintain gene pool of wide verity of fauna. The National parks and Sanctuaries in the state bear immense significance so far biodiversity is concerned.

In present context, a great controversy explodes regarding Dehing Patkai rain forest because uproar against illegal open cast mining in Dehing Patkai rain forest itself. No doubt, Dehing Patkai forest has an unambiguous significance as that was declared as rain forest which could be compared as Amazon of the East. Dehing Patkai sanctuary is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia district of Assam. It covers an area of 111.9 square kilometer. The rain forest stretches for more than 575 square kilometer in the district of Dibrugargh, Tinsukia and Charidao. The Dehing Patkai forms the largest stretch of lowland rain forest in India. However, the sanctuary has another important significance and it is due to the elephant habitat which was declared as Dehing Patkai elephant reserve forest.

Dehing Patkai was declared as a rain forest sanctuary on 13th June 2004 because of wide verities of flora and fauna along with some endangered species. There are about 47 mammal species, 47 reptile and more than 310 butterfly species.

Dehing Patkai rainforest sanctuary is a unique creature of nature because the other sanctuaries in Assam do not have that type of characteristics which possesses by Dehing Patkai. There was a great struggle which was bestowed by various environmental groups to declare it as a sanctuary and out of these Nature’s Beckon under the leadership of the founder Director Soumyadeep Datta did a tremendous effort to the various forum including Government officials to declare it as a sanctuary and as a result in 2004 it was declared as one of the sanctuaries of Assam.

The most common mammal species of the sanctuary are Hoolock gibbon, Slow loris, Assamese macaque, Capped langur, Asian elephant, Indian leopard, etc. There are about 293 avian species including Greater adjutant, Wreat hornbill, white winged wood duck, Black baza, Hill myna etc. Out of 63% resident species some are winter visitors (23%) and other summer visitors.
In Dehing Patkai there are different types of trees like Hollong, Mekai, Dhuna, Naton etc. and good number of exotic species of orchids, ferns, climbers, etc.

Dehing Patkai rainforest sanctuary is a unique creature of nature because the other sanctuaries in Assam do not have that type of characteristics which possesses by Dehing Patkai. There was a great struggle which was bestowed by various environmental groups to declare it as a sanctuary and out of these Nature’s Beckon under the leadership of the founder Director Soumyadeep Datta did a tremendous effort to the various forum including Government officials to declare it as a sanctuary and as a result in 2004 it was declared as one of the sanctuaries of Assam.

Since then the rain forest was calm and quiet and many tourist visited the sanctuary both in winter as well as in summer. But after almost two decades an up roaring prevailed not only in Assam but also outside of Assam regarding the destruction of the sanctuary. It is very much true that irrespective of nature’s lover general people of Assam have also a feeling to restore our natural resources unbroken so, every citizen are very much concern about the illegal open cast mining in Dehing Patkai rain forest. People started to focus it through media as well as social media to stop cast mining immediately.

Almost all environmental organizations started hue and cry like situation and forwarded their view to save Dehing Patkai sanctuary. Even some organization filed court case in Gauhati High Court also. When contacted to Soumyadeep Datta he outright denied the fact that there is no any cast mining inside the sanctuary or nor even their proposed extended area of 550 square kilometer.

There is a place called Saleki where cast mining had been going on since long back and controlled by Coal India Limited. It is to be noted that the distance between Dehing patkai sanctuary and Saleki is about 9.1 k.m.s. and it is a part of Dehing patkai elephant reserve forest. Several NGO or other organization asked the Assam Government to go phase wise scraping the coal mining in the Dehing Patkai Elephant reserve notified in 2003 by creating alternative livelihood opportunities for local people who had been dependent on legal coal mining.

Almost all organizations expressed their views that either legal or illegal coal mining practice should be stopped immediately to avoid the destruction of elephant habitat. The up roaring situation regarding the coal mining in Saleki to destroy the elephant reserve forest, North eastern Council had issued a statement that the coal mining area has been suspended since October 2019 on the directive of department of forest, Govt. of Assam and that is awaiting for stage II clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate change..

Now, at present scenario a very important question arises that if the coal mining practices was going on since long back concentrating the Saleki area, why recently up roaring of various organizations regarding destruction of Dehing Patkai rain forest has come in frontline? The coal mining site is even still far away from the propose extended area of Dehing Patkai comprising 550 square k.m. which has been demanding by Nature’s Beckon, a prominent organization of environment in Assam. After thorough investigation it is evident that it might be a great conspiracy which planned to destruct the sanctuary with a phase manner. The conspirators group might have drawn an attention to the public that as the destruction has already been started so there would not be any possible measures to save the rain forest. This is supposed to be a hidden agenda behind the scene.

It is very much true that Assam State Govt. has taken immediate action with respective forest Minister and other officials asked them to visit personally the respective site and gather the necessary information using drone on the entire area of Dehing Patkai forest. People from different corners of organization including media persons also visited the place as well as met the higher officials of Coal India Limited and according to their observations neither in Dehing Patkai nor even the proposed extended of 550 sq.km. of sanctuary, no coal mining practices is under process.

We, the human being cannot live without the grace of nature because for our survival besides food, breathing is the first priority to keep alive each and every part of our organs. Hence everybody should adore our nature. On the other hand, atrocity on nature by human being had been continuing long back only for the benefit of our comfort. So, people should honour our natural resources not only for present habitat but also for future generation. Dehing Patkai rain forest is a pioneer in terms of rain forest in Assam and everybody should extend their support to protect it from every corner of our hindrance.

 
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