More than 500 'illegal squatters' were removed from Assam's Orang National Park as the authorities cleared land to make space for a wildlife corridor.
Officials stated this was part of a four-day eviction effort that began this morning in Sonitpur district to remove "encroached land," affecting almost 800 households.
The Orang National Park has an area of 89 square kilometres in the districts of Sonitpur and Darrang, and the eviction is being carried out to remove "encroached land for an animal corridor" to Kaziranga National Park.
Sonitpur deputy commissioner Deba Kumar Mishra said all the areas to be covered by the eviction drive are 'char' (land which crops up because of siltation of the river) areas in the district.
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"Eviction drive was carried out in five char areas today and it will be done in another four such spots on Monday. The drive went off smoothly today," Mishra said. The majority of those living on the 'char land' had already left the area, the DC claimed.
Since taking office in May 2021, the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led state administration has started carrying out evictions.
A number of opposition parties and social organisations have criticised the exercise and raised worry over the loss of home and livelihood for a group of individuals defined as disadvantaged and impoverished.
To date, the bulk of people afflicted have been Muslims and tribals, while the majority of Ahoms have also been impacted. According to an official, heavy gear was not employed in the drive on Sunday because of transportation issues. "The eviction teams had to travel by boat and cross streams of water." As a result, we did not employ any big machinery.
"We had arranged for adequate security to ensure the law and order situation," the official said.
He stated that most of the citizens were from the adjoining districts of Nagaon and Morigaon and had already evacuated their houses. About 13,000 acres of the National Park are expected to be cleared during the project, with more than 6,800 acres in Sonitpur.
Earlier this year, in one of the largest eviction efforts in Assam, the administration removed 2,099 hectares of Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary and adjoining revenue villages in Sonitpur district during a three-day period beginning February 14 and affected about 12,800 people.
When accused encroachers of railway land flung stones to obstruct an eviction effort in Digboi, Tinsukia district, upper Assam, security officers resorted to the lathi charge on February 15.
On the same day, the Barpeta district government conducted an eviction campaign in the Bhabanipur region, clearing roughly 300 hectares of land belonging to the Gopal Dev Aata Satra (Vaishnavite monastery).
Leaving aside opposition criticism, the chief minister assured the state Assembly on December 21 last year that eviction campaigns to clear government and forest lands in Assam would continue as long as the BJP remains in power.
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