Monday, September 26, 2011

Khalingduar RF witnesses attempt to end man-elephant conflict in India

Situated on the remote Indo-Bhutan international border, Khalingduar RF (Reserve forest) under Dhansiri Forest Division,Udalguri, (location 26 52' 14E and 91 53' 01E/elevation 270 M from sea level) has always been a unique virgin beauty of nature. With an area of 7033 hectares, Khalingduar is the abode of many rare species of flora and fauna and really deserves a berth next to none in the field of biodiversity. The important animals which can be seen in the RF are elephant, marble cat (a very rare species of wild cat), tigers wild buffalo, bison, common langur, wild dog, barking deer, spotted deer, hog deer, chital, hyenea, wild pig and common fox. Among birds, horn bills and peacocks are important. Kuha Ban, a different types of grass could be seen on either side of the Nonoi river. Unfortunately due to poor infrastructure and step motherly treatment of the government, the surface areas of the reserve forest have been decreasing day by day rapidly due to deforestation. According to local people most of the forest resources had been destroyed during 1990 to 2003 period. The then government in power gave a free hand to SULFA people who destroyed 80 to 90 percent of the forests and wild animals in Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Khalingduar Reserve forest.The southern side of the RF has been used as the grazing land for thousands of cattle thereby causing untold damage both to animals and plants. The two PRFs (proposed Reserve Forest ) under Nonoi range namely, Newlee, Kundarbill 2nd and 3rd edition attached to Khalingdar RF have never been declared as RF for decades resulting in heavy damages to the forest and wildlife. Thousands of hectares of land belonging to these PRF have already been encroached for tea plantation. Another plot of 2500 bighas of forest land on Samrang elephant corridor on Newllee hills have been encroached by a religious organization for commercial use. This has blocked the age old Samrang elephant corridor forcing wild elephants to roam in the nearby villages. All these activities of deforestation had been responsible for the so called man -elephant conflict in which seven wild elephants and eight human being have lost lives in just three months.
TR Pegu, SDPO,Bhergaon Subdivision in association with Debajit Deuri,SP,Udalguri and Haladhar Kalita,Range Officer,Nonai Range Office under Khalingduar RF. tried a novel method to bring the situation under control.As a part of massive awareness programme, Ganesh Puja was arranged inside the RF on September 24.Five trucks load of banana trees and sufficient quantities of salts were placed well inside the forest for the wild elephants. This has been the third such kind of offering by police and forest officials. The programme was well attended by representatives of various NGOs, organizations, associations including- WWF (North Bank Landscape Programme);WTI (Wildlife Trust of India),Kokrajhar;ABSU Udalguri and Bagsa district committee; ABSU, Dimakuchi and Harisinga Anchalik committee; Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society;Tangla Press Club; Kalaigaon Press Club; NDFB (P);Bengali Students Federation etc. A formal discussion was arranged at Nonai Forest Range Office at 12 noon. Senior journalist of NE India Samudragupta Kashyap of Indian Express group attended the discussion as the chief guest. Thanking all the people of Udalguri for coming out to solve the long pending problems likedeforestation, encroachment resulting man-elephant conflict,he said that he had been maintaining an additional relationship with wildlife conservation activities. He remarked that Khalingduar Reserve Forest and Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary could easily draw international attention with good infrastructure proper exposure.DN Hazarika,Circle Officer,Harisinga Revenue Circle,Tangla;Buddhi Ram Boro, president, Udalguri district ABSU;BK Olongbar, Organising Secretary of NDFB (P);Sanjoy Gogoi of WWF;Ratan Deka (former SULA);Jayanta Kumar Das,senior journalist of Udalguri;Haladhar Kalita,Range officer ,Nonai;Diganta Sarma, Secretary, Tangla Press Club; Narayan Deka, journalist;Ananta Bagh,CEO,Green valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society etc also offered valuable suggestions to end the man-elephant conflict in the district. Ragen Gogoi,Senior Asstt.Manager of Nonai TE anchored the proceeding of the discussion.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

11 Udalguri child scientists to attend state level NCSC

Eleven child scientists of Udalguri district have been selected to attend the state level NCSC (National Children's Science Congress) meet to be held at Madhab Deb College,Narayanpur (Lakhimpur) from 13 to 16 October this year.The selected students are -Bonani Sharma, (Orang HSS); Rup Kumar Mandal and Gitali Das,(Sankardeb Bidya Niketan, Mazbat); Bikash Kumar Das,(Rowta Station HS,Rowta);Dhan Brahma,(Sacred Heart School,Rowta);Kapil Ramchiary,(Arunodoi Academy, Tangla); Sangita Rabha, (Jatiya Bidyalaya Asom,Tangla); Pranabjyoti Deka, (Tangla Adarsha Bidyapeeth); Pratyashe Baishya,(Sacred Heart School, Udalguri); Barasha Deka, (Kalaigaon Girls HS); Famuma Boro,(U.N.Academy (Udalguri).It needs mention that Udalguri district level NCSC meet was held Mazbat College on September 15 recently, where students from 30 schools of the district presented 75 numbers of science projects on the focal theme Land Resources:Use for Prosperity,Save for Posterity.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Good marks cannot improve standard of education:SEBA chairman told NCSC child scientists at Mazbat

The 19th National Children's Science Congress Udalguri district session was held at Mazbat college premises on September 15 with day long programme.Child scientists from various places of the district namely -Udalguri Mazbat, Orang, Rowta, Kalaigaon,Tangla,Khoirabari etc presented their projects on the focal theme -”Land Resources:Use for prosperity,Save for posterity”. Pradip Kumar Sarma,Principal,Mazbat college hoisted the NCSC flag at 9 AM to mark the beginning of the children's science congress followed by tree plantation and registration of child scientists. On the occasion principal Sarma thanked district NCSC for organizing the science programme at Mazbat, which he said would take the students of the area a step ahead in the field of science and technology. Noted writer and Deputy Commissioner of the district Thaneswar Malakar formally inaugurated the project presented ceremony after Jayanta Kumar Das,District NCSC Coordinator had welcomed all the students and teachers at 10.30 AM.The district NCSC and Mazbat reception committee also felicitated all the distinguished guests with gamocha and arnai. Speaking to nearly thousand students,teachers and people,the Deputy Commissioner expressed satisfaction at the district and state level activities of child scientists of Udalguri district.He said that Udalguri district administration had been offering full support to students and child scientists of the district.He also mentioned that NCSC Udalguri and district administration had jointly organized a programme titled “Your voice against Superstition” on August 11 at DC's conference Hall at Udalguri. Noted educationalist and presently the Chairman of SEBA Shantikam Hazarika attended the programme as the chief guest. He specially thanked people of Mazbat and NCSC district committee for selecting Mazbat as the venue of the science meet in an excellent atmosphere. On the matter of education reforms in Assam, the SEBA chairman,who had done his M.TEC from IIT,Pilani and MBA from IIM ,Ahmedabad remarked that mere giving good marks in SEBA examination can never improve the standard of education in the state unless students became interested to learn.He also remarked that those who scored very good marks in SEBA examinations could not show the same in the all India level competitive examinations.(later he told media persons that lack of liability on the parts of primary and secondary level teachers also responsible for the present scenario.Citing an example he said that most of the students enter high schools without even knowing the alphabets.) Debajit Deuri,SP,Udalguri released a souvenir published on the occasion by NCSC district committee.Three schools of the district namely-Khagara High School.Khoirabari; Arunodoi Academy,Tangla and Ramswarup Agarwalla Memorial English School,Udalguri were felicitated during the inaugural ceremony for their outstanding participation in NCSC 2010 held at RAMES Udalguri.It needs mention that students of the said three schools presented 24, 21 and 14 science projects respectively which helped Udalguri district NCSC to secure second position in the state level count. Students from 30 schools presented 76 projects during the day.People of Mazbat stagged a street drama on witch hunting to much delight of the people present.Tarun Deka.Jayanta Kumar Pathak, Naba Kumar Sarma, Mritunjoy Deb Sarma, Binoy Kumar Basumatari and Naren Boro conducted the science project presentation as the judges. Group leaders of eleven best projects would present their projects at the state level NCSC meet to be held at Madhab Dev College,Narayanpur (Lakhimpur) from 13 to 16 October this year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beautiful grass lands of Assam

Grasslands of Udalguri district,Assam

Tree sheds to watch wild elephants in Nonai

Pachnoi River near Mazbat

Spectacular landscape of Pachnoi river

Unknown beauty of Mazbat

Ganesh Puja at Bornadi WLS,Assam (India) to mitigate man-elephant conflict

Large scale human encroachment of the age old elephant corridors of Udalguri district of Assam has posed serious threat to ecology of the district as well as the state. Unabated felling of trees and destruction of the green cover have compelled wild elephants to roam in the near by villages, once belonged to them. A visit to India-Bhutan international border would reveal this horrific truth of forest destruction. All the PRF (Proposed Reserve Forests ) namely- Neewly, Kundarbi and Bhairabkunda etc have been encroached by various people and organisations. Even 450 bighas of forest land had been allotted to one Brahmo Sewashram on Neewly hills near Bhutan ,for commercial use. (Actually the organisation has illegally encroached more than 2500 bighas of forest land,as per report of the Circle Officer,Harisinga Revenue Circle. Memo No.HRC/S-27/2001/98 Dated 01-01-2006 )The Circle Officers working in Harisinga Revenue Circle,Udalguri Revenue Circle and Mazbat Revenue Circle earned millions of rupees during 1990-2006 period by allotting pattas to the encroachers. The Lat Mandals and Kanangus offered full cooperation in the matter in return of huge amount of money. This is the untold story behind so called man -elephant conflict in the district. Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Khalingduar Reserve Forest have virtually been shrinking day by day. Banana and bamboo trees are vanishing fast in the forests because of roaming of thousands of domestic cattle inside the forest causing food crisis for the wild elephants. A full grown wild elephants needs 170-200 kg of food items and 80-200 litres of water daily. It can easily be assumed what amount of food and water a herd of wild elephants (generally 10 to 20 in a herd,but sometimes there are more than 100 ) would require daily.
Unfortunately with the destruction of forests,several herds of wild elephants have started coming down to villages in Udalguri district in search of food and water. The deaths of seven wild elephants and seven human beings in the district during last three months alone have proved the seriousness of the problem. Lack of fund,material and man power forest department could not meet the situation. There are only 65 numbers of forester and guards in the Dhansiri Forest Division.It is near impossible for them to cover areas from Bogamati to Pachnoi. In each Range Office,the working field duty staff number is not more than 20.
Debajit Deuri,SP,Udalguri and TR Pegu,SDPO,Bhergaon Subdivision in association with forest staff have taken up a massive programme in the district to create awareness and to minimize man-elephant conflict.As part of the programme,Ganesh Puja was arranged at No.4 pukhuri well inside Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary on September 10 with day long programme. Police and forest department organised the puja in association with Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society,Nonaipar and Pigmy Hog Eco-Tourism Society of Bornadi WLS.After the puja ceremony, five truck loads of banana tree and one truckload of salt had been kept inside the forest for the wild elephants.TR Pegu,SDPO,Bhergaon told accompanying media persons that more banana and salts would be placed at different places inside the sanctuary next week.Another awareness meeting was organised at No.4 Rajagarh village near Bornadi WLS on September 7 where people of most effected villages interacted with police and media. The meeting was also attended by a few conservation activists .

Monday, September 5, 2011

Man-elephant conflict takes serious turn in Udalguri district.High level discussion held

“Man-elephant conflict” has taken a serious turn in Udalguri district in last two months causing deaths of five wild elephants and six human beings.A high level discussion was held at Deputy Commissioner's Conference Hall at Udalguri on September 2 to find out solutions to mitigate the conflict.The meeting was organized by Bankim Sarma,DFO,Dhansiri Forest Division,in association with Udalguri district administration. Thaneswar Malakar,Deputy Commissioner ,Udalguri presided over the discussion which was attended by Mitha Ram Basumatari and Santias Kunjur, both BTC EM;Debojit Deuri,SP,Udalguri;MP Sarma,PD,DRDA,Udalguri;Pradip Kumar Daimari,MCLA, BTC; Dr.Anupam Sarma and Hitesh Baishya,of WWF India;Circle Officers of Mazbat, Harisinga and Udalguri; Managers of Hatigarh TE,Orangajuli TE,Borangajuli TE and Nonai TE; representatives of small tea growers, NGOs; ABSU and all the media persons.

Speaking on the occasion,DFO,Dhansiri Division said that no financial grants had ever been sanctioned during last two years for the maintenance of Bornadi Wild Life Sanctuary of Udalguri district.It needs mention that Situated in the foot hills of Himalayas, bordering Bhutan in the North of Udalguri district, Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary ( 26 46' 49 N and 91 45' 31 E;at the elevation of 175 M above sea level )with an area of 28.22 sq km could well have attracted large number of inland and foreign tourists for its exotic virgin beauty, had there been good infrastructures like drinking water, communication system, forest guides etc. The only known abode of pig my hog (sus salvinous)and Hispid hare (caprolagus hispid),Barnadi wild life sanctuary had been neglected by both state and BTAD authorities since its up gradation to wild life sanctuary in 1980.Earlier it was known as the Barnadi Reserve Forest The sanctuary had been an ideal bhabar tract. The sanctuary has at least 14 species of mammals including Indian elephants, Tiger ,Leopard, Slow loris, Capped languor, Barking deer Gaur ,Himalayan black bear, wild bore, Pangolin, Particoloured flying squirrel, Assamese macaque, Peacocks, Eurasian otter, fishing cat and Porcupine etc. Non availability of maintenance funds has virtually stopped all kinds of developmental activities in side the Bornadi WLS,paving the ways of the smugglers deep inside the WLS. Patrolling is near impossible in the WLS due to lack of man power and blockage of interior forest roads. Debojit Deuri,SP,Udalguri urged the civil and forest officials immediately to take steps to control the deaths of elephants and man.He also suggested the use of tear gas cells to disperse unruly wild elephants causing menace in the villages. The matter of illegal allotment of 450 bighas of forest lands to Bahmo Sewashram at Newlee PRF was also raised during the discussion. From all the records it was found that on the basis of the report of then Circle Officer,Harisinga Revenue Circle ,the SDLAC,Bhergaon had allotted the said plot of forest lands to the religious body, which violated forest rules as directed by the Supreme Court of India. Mitha Ram Basumatari and Santias Kunjur,both BTC EM assured that they would place the matter before BTC so as to take steps to cancel the allotment.

The meeting further requested the tea gardens of the district not to encroach more forest lands; maintain their own staff to monitor movement of wild elephants; engage one Kunki elephant at their own expenditure; not to stock chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc out in the open; to stop erection of loose electric fencing to drive away wild elephants; not to dig deep trenches (serving as death traps for baby elephants).The district administration directed the Circle Officers of the district to find out actual possession of lands of the tea gardens both small and big. The issue of declaration of Dhansiri Forest Division as a wild life division was raised by senior journalist and Hony. Wildlife Warden Bhargab Kumar Das.Thaneswar Malakar, Deputy Commissioner Udalguri directed forest officials to form a high level committee to take steps to supervise the man elephant conflict in the district.

Rescued healthy baby wild elephant dies at Kaziranga NP

Very sad news:The 2 months old male baby wild elephant,which had been rescued in Udalguri district on August 26/2011 died at Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre,Kaziranga National Park on the night of September 2.The baby was quite well at the time of its transportation to Kaziranga NP on August 27 from Paneri forest office.The baby even played with me for some time.Now I come 2 know that almost 70% rescued baby wild elephants die at the Rehabilitation Centre,unnoticed.May be loving and caring hands were missing there!