Police on Monday here resorted to lathi-charge, tear-gas and firing of rubber bullets to disperse several hundred protestors in order to carry out an eviction drive in the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary that shares boundary with Guwahati city, and demolised over 400 houses illegally constructed inside it. The eviction drive, which was carried out following a Gauhati High Court order, involved over 1,500 police personnel and about 300 demolition labourers, apart from a dozen elephants, a few bulldozers, with the encroachers initially trying to prevent the authorities from entering a number of villages that were illegally established inside the sanctuary. A few police and forest personnel were injured when encroachers pelted stones to stop the operation.
An eviction order was issued by the Gauhati High Court while disposing off a suo moto PIL registered in 2013 on the basis of a letter written by Early Birds, a Guwahato-based environment protection group giving details of how the sanctuary was rapidly shrining because of failure of the authorities to protect it from systematic encroachment. An official estimate has put the number of encroachers at about 2,000.
Over 10 sq km of the 78.64-sq km Amchang Wilelife Sanctuary is currently under encroachment, with the encroachers setting up about a dozen villages by cutting down valuable trees and shrubs that provide shelter and food to several species of wildlife.
Amchang is home to 44 species of mammals and 250 avian species, besides varied numbers of reptiles and amphibians.
“The government has launched the eviction drive in line with a Gauhati High Court order. Encroachment has not only led to destruction of valuable forests, but also triggerred off serious human-elephant conflict across the state. Amchang is only one example,” state forest and environment minister Pramila Rani Brahma said here on Monday. The sanctuary would be freed of encraochers within November 30, she said.
The mammal list of Amchang includes elephant, Chinese pangolin, flying fox, slow loris, Assamese macaque, rhesus macaque, capped langur, hoolock gibbon, jungle cat, leopard cat, leopard, wild pig, sambar , barking deer, gaur and porcupine among others. Likewise, some of the commonly sighted birds include Lesser adjutant, Greater adjutant, white-backed vulture, slender-billed vulture, khaleej pheasant, green imperial pigeon, and lesser pied hornbill.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines