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Encroachment killing forest in the state

Vana Mahotsav was started in India in 1950. Keeping in mind the shared inter linkages between forestry and agriculture, the then Union Minister of Agriculture KM Munshi, embarked upon this idea to create awareness on conservation of forests and plantation of trees among masses of this largely agricultural country. However, in recent times the underlying objective behind celebration of this weeklong festival seemed to have lost its relevance. Without proper conservation of forests, simply growing trees cannot be a substitute for altering shared habitats. Forests perform critical ecological functions. In cities they are important green spaces supporting a variety of life including birds and animals and water recharge.

Shrinking of dense forest cover has led to the crisis of wildlife management in the state. Protected areas that include the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests (RF) have suffered extensively over the years. Reserve forests have now being pooled with exotic tree plantations such as rubber or Teak plantations which have very limited value for endangered biodiversity. The Assam Project on Forestry and Biodiversity Conservation: Feasibility report states that apart from carbon sequestration, logging will progressively be implemented. There are also plans for new fuel-wood plantation. Converting chunks of natural forests into monoculture industrial plantations would devastate local ecosystems. This is indeed scary because the natural eco-systems are complex and sensitive, where each species has a role and is symbiotically dependent on other species. Removing 95-98% of species for growing 1-2 species may result in the fast degradation of the delicate ecosystem,, this was stated in a press release signed by Mubina Akhtar, secretary Kaziranga Wildlife Society, Moloy Barua, president Early Birds and Nitul Sibnath, working president of Aranya Suraksha Samity. The leading nature organizations of the state jointly addressed a press meet at the Guwahati Press Club on Monday expressing concern over the prevailing state of affairs in the management of forest and wildlife in the state.

This was stated in a press release by Kaziranga Wildlife Society on Monday "While RFs constitute 66.58 per cent of the State’s total classified forest cover, un-classed forests constitute 33.42 per cent of the state’s total forest area. Unfortunately, a staggering 3,396 sq km of the 300 plus RFs across the State is under encroachment officially."

  • More than four lakh people have settled illegally inside 20 wildlife sanctuaries and 271 Reserved Forests.
  • In Sonitpur district alone 892 sq km of forested area is under encroachment.
  • About 782 hectares of the 78.64 sq km Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary is under encroachment.
  • The220 sq km Sonai-Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary has lost over 85 sq km of its forest are to encroachers.
  • Seven RFs of Kamrup –Garbhanga, Hengerabari, South Sarania, Gotanagar, Jalukbari, Kalapahar and Fatasil are under large-scale encroachmentposing grave threat to the urban biodiversity. About 80 per cent of the 70 hectare Kalapahar RF has almost been cleared. 
  • Organized encroachment has threatened to wipe away the Manas Resesrve Forest, to the west of the newly created first addition of Manas National Park. It has been alleged by local environment groups that not less than an acre of the forest land has been cleared each day. Encroachment has been intensified in the RF since the last one year. Destruction of this important forest patch between the river Aie and the river Bhur has reached such an alarming proportion that it has been feared that the whole RF may vanish by next year unless the BTC administration curb this menace with strong hands. About 53 villages sprang up inside the Manas National Park over the last 23 years. Forest areas under Chirang, Kolmou and the Kuklung Range have declined drastically. Along with encroachment, illegal logging and poaching continue in the National Park.

The release further stted that "rapid decline in forest cover is not only going to seriously impact biodiversity but also stands to impact climatic conditions with irreversible catastrophic consequences.  We demand the State government—if at all it is serious of protecting what is left of our forests--to act tough on illegal settlers and ensure that there is no fresh encroachment on forest land."


Deepor Beel

Deepor, as the very name suggests, is a traditional refuge of the elephant and has been protected as a wildlife sanctuary.  Continuous encroachment has already reduced this once 4,000 hectare (ha) wetland shrunk into less than 500 ha area! It has been reported that a high level meeting chaired by the state Chief Minister recently has come up with plans of constricting the protected area boundaries of the Sanctuary to its half for tourism-related activities.  The sanctuary, in order to remain alive and perform some definite ecosystem services, needs more a conservational approach.

The Railways during a submission before a Bench of the National Green Tribunal, has stated that there were consultations between the Forest Department and the Railways at the Ministry level to evolve a solution on the ways to meet the expenditure for construction of a tunnel to lay the rail tracks over the Deepor Beel stretch on the forest land as a long-term solution for free movement of the elephants. If the scheme materializes then there would be more shrinkage to the wetland. In such a situation it is expected of the state government not to go with projects that may further shrink the area of the wildlife sanctuary protected for the mega faunas. 

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World Kidney Day to be observed at Dispur Hospital

8 Mar 2016 - 8:27pm | AT News

The city based Dispur Hospitals Pvt. Ltd will observe the World Kidney Day on 10 March 2016 at its complex in Ganeshguri, Guwahati-781006. The Dispur Hospital management has decided to mark the day with various activities including a free kidney check-up camp for common people.

The activity will start with a walkathon kicking-off at 7 am from the hospital premises. The kidney check-up camp on the hospital complex is scheduled to start on 10 am and conclude by 1 pm. It will be followed by a free consultation for all kidney related diseases.

City gears up for Pragjyoti Dance Festival

3 Jan 2010 - 5:23pm | Aiyushman Dutta

Kalpa, a Society for Promotion of Art, Literature, Culture and Social Harmony, founded a year ago is hosting the ‘Pragjyoti Dance Festival: A View of Indian Dance’ by young proponents for the second time on January 8, 9 and 19, 2010 in Rabindra Bhawan, Guwahahti. It may be remembered that the first Pragjyoti National Dance Festival, held in February 2009, covering almost all the major Indian classical dance traditions including Sattriya Dance created a susceptible impact among the dancephiles and art connoisseurs of the country. This year’s festival, which is being supported by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama, will be ceremonially inaugurated by Ratan Thiyam, a celebrated theatre personality and Vice-Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi on January 8, 2010 at 6.00 p.m. in Rabindra Bhawan. Renowned Kathak exponent and Secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Akademi Jayant Kastuar will grace the Inaugural Ceremony as the guest of honour and release the Souvenir, Pragjyoti.

The grand dance fiesta will feature young talents from all over the country and even abroad. Artists from the Natun Kamalabari Sattra, Majuli, Kamalabari Sattra, Titabor, Manashri Pathak (Jorhat), Jollymoni Saikia and Dimpy Baishya (Guwahati) will present Sattriya Dance. The other artists being featured in the festival are Vrata Chigateri (UK) in Kuchipudi, Aligunjan Kalita Mudiyar (Guwahati) and Leena Malakar (Nepal) in Kathak, Sachiko Murakami (Japan), Shibani Patnaik (US) and Amulya Balabantaray (Bhubaneswar) in Odissi, Hemolata Devi (Imphal) in Manipuri, Vidyamol T Purusottam (Thrissur) in Mohiniattam, Ranjith Babu and Arupa Lahiri (Chennai) in Bharatanatyam and Loknath Das (Paripada) in Mayurbhanj Chhau.

Planned in solo format, the festival aims at showcasing the young exponents of all classical dance styles. As noted Xatriya dancer Anwesa Mahanta, who is the coordinator of the festival, says: “The festival is also a humble attempt to create a dialogue among the young generation belonging to different parts of the country, to reciprocate the goodwill that I, as a Xatriya performer, receive in different regions of India. Focusing on the young generation who is carrying forward the ancient traditions of dance, the festival also aims in doing away with the misconception lingering in many minds of the country that Assam is only a land known for terrorism and extortion.” The festival will also feature Chau Dance, an emerging dance style from Orissa.

The coordinators of the festival are Shyamhari Chakra (Bhubaneswar) and Anwesa Mahanta.


Amulya Balabantaray

Initiated in the art of Gotipua Dance by Late Mahadev Rout and Sri Bijay Kumar Sahoo, he later joined Orissa Dance Academy. Bhubaneswar, where he received formal training in Odissi dance under the direct supervision of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. Aruna Mohanty, Guru Bichitrananda Swain and Guru Manoranjan Pradhan. Over the years, Amulya has given numerous performances through the length and breadth of India at various festivals and functions. Having also performed at the 2nd International Odissi festival in Washington 2002, his sole aim is to establish himself as a promising dancer of this generation.

Arupa Lahiry

A passionate dancer from Kolkata, her search for excellence in Bharatnatyam took her to study this art form from the legendary Chitra Visweswaran in Chennai. A senior scholarship from the Department of Culture, Government of India further helped her prove her mettle through solo performances at major festivals and sabhas, which include Madras Music Academy, Chennai, Natyarangam Trust, Chennai; Kartik Fine Arts, Chennai; and many others. An MPhil in English Literature, Arupa has choreographed and danced for a bhakti series ‘Main Kaun’ aired in Zee Networks and has been featured in reputed tabla player Tanmoy Bose’s music album released from the label ‘SaReGaMa’

Renjith Babu

A proficient performing artiste among male Baharatnatyam dancers, his body expressions, perfect and stylistic accessibility is extolled by critics and connoisseurs alike. Renjith was initiated into Bharatanatyam at a very young age under the tutelage of Smt Prasanna Prakash. His inherent flair for the art saw him proceeding to the world renowned Kalakshetra in Chennai. Impressing people with his performances all over, he is today a recognized performer who has carved a niche in the minds of classical connoisseurs.

WWF-India screens 'The Forgotten Tigers'

4 Sep 2014 - 7:53pm | Syed Miraz Ahmed

WWF-India in association with the Cotton College State University (CCSU) today screened a 54 minute film titled: 'The Forgotten Tigers', by eminent wildlife filmmaker Krishnendu Bose. The screening followed a discussion by the filmmaker on ‘Tiger Conservation’ at the KBR Auditorium of CCSU.

A thought provoking documentary, the film features the plight of tigers living outside tiger reserves and the whole issue of gaps in human and other resources for their protection. It highlights the problems that the forest department personnel face on the ground, and brings up the question of social carrying capacity and the problems faced by the communities living in proximity to the tigers.

The film addresses tigers across the country, mainly in Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Karnataka. It showcases fantastic footages of tigers and brings in new perspectives about tiger conservation in the country.