Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar
CEO & Secretary General of Aaranyak
As nature craves for regeneration after centuries of onslaught from the mankind which has devised innumerable ways to exploit nature’s resources for its comfort and material progress, but few ways to regenerate and conserve the global ecology and environment.
In such a crisis situation, vastly verdant and pristine nature in Northeast India, that is part of Eastern Himalaya and Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspots, needs concerted efforts for conservation of its nature and resources (both floral and faunal), rivers and other water bodies for the wellbeing of not only the country but the entire planet.
So, Aaranyak hopes that policy makers of all the N-E states resort to out of box thinking to work out well coordinated policy covering the region-wide conservation issues given that state boundaries are man-made only. The entire region needs uniform and need-based strategy and regional coordination among policy makers for conservation of precious nature.
Economic progress and infrastructure development is of course required for the strategically positioned Northeastern region. However, conservation of nature should be also given equal priority in the region where the nature provides livelihood options and sources of sustenance for millions. It is of prime important to realise that some infrastructures found suitable (like multi-lane highways) for the rest of the country may not be required at all in the Northeast where building such infrastructure is bound to cause irreparable damages to resourceful hills, forests and rivers. We need infrastructure that suits the environment in the region, not those at the cost of our environment.
Raging human elephant conflict as cause for concern
The Elephant in India is declared as Heritage Animal. Human beings and elephants have lived for ages in harmony. However, in past two years, human-elephant conflict (HEC) in Assam has gone out of control with casualties in both human and elephants are shooting up. Doesn’t it merit for immediate discussion at government level? Increasing ex-gratia for death of humans due to elephant charge outside the forest area is not the ultimate solution. The current human-elephant conflict has to be averted through time-bound steps in the ground. It is the need of the hour.
In Assam, the human-elephant conflict has been noticed more in Udalguri, Sonitpur, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Golaghat and Majuli districts. We all know that the main reason for such increase in the level of conflict is due to rapid decline of forest cover in parts of Assam, loss of traditional elephant movement paths due to linear infra-structure development projects and also due to human encroachment.
The entire conflict situation needs to be given Disaster Status and funds need to be procured accordingly from concerned department(s). The efforts put up by Assam Government in the last two years to save rhinos have desired results as rhino poaching in Assam has reduced in these two years due to commitment of the government. Same commitment and time-bound action are now needed to convert human-elephant conflict to human-elephant co-existence.
Preservation of rivers and other water bodies
Human greed is insatiable and that is well reflected rampant exploitation of our rivers and other natural water bodies in Assam and the rest of the region. Rivers are exploited not only because of fishes and other consumable aquatic species but also for sand.
Encroachment on water bodies are found unregulated even though there are laws existing for protection of these. Enforcement of these laws are found wanting which needs to be augmented as water bodies are core of nature
The hills are priceless, cutting must stop
Unplanned and unregulated Cutting and blasting of hills for setting up human settlement and build infrastructure, rampant quarrying of stones are the worst kind of damages caused to Mother Nature. Unfortunately, it has become a routine affair in the entire Northeast. It is high time all the NE states join efforts to save our hills that are so vital for the protection of the ecosystem in the region cutting across man-made state boundaries.
Time has come to consider unregulated hill cutting a heinous crime that warrant stringent punishment. Suitable region-wide law has to be put in place to facilitate the same.
Kaziranga Park needs respite from human pressure
The unique biodiversity of Kaziranga National Park is priceless. However, because of the park’s advantageous location by the arterial national highway as well as Brahmaputra Waterway, the park that boasts of a treasure trove of one-horned rhinoceros is always in the limelight from the aspects of tourism as well as conservation initiatives. However, overcrowding of human activities is not going to augur well for the park in the long run.
The most effective way to lessen the pressure on Kaziranga is to develop and promote other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries like those in Manas, Orang, Pabitora, Nameri, Dibru-Saikhowa etc. so that new vistas are created for the nature buff to exploit and take recourse too. Once other parks are developed at par, all will enjoy equal importance from conservation and tourism points of view.