Exclusive | Guwahati, Gateway to the Northeast, reeling under rampant encroachment

Guwahati, July 11: A total of 6,738 hectares of reserved forests are under illegal occupation in Kamrup (Metro) which falls under the Kamrup East Division. This shocking information, which has come to light through an RTI query, highlights the fact that Guwahati, termed as the gateway to the Northeast, is reeling under rampant encroachment.

The reserved forests area which falls under Kamrup (Metro) are: Gotanagar, Sarani Pahar, South Kalapahar, Fatasil, Hengrabari, Garbhanga, Jorachal, Kawasing, Rani, Maliwata, Afrikola (West), Marakdola, Matapahar, Chamata and Teteliguri.

As per the data, given in response to an RTI application by Nityananda Kalita, Gotanagar, Afrikola (West) and Garbhanga reserve forests are the worst affected in terms of encroached area. The highest encroachment of reserve forests took place in Akrikola (West) followed by Garbhanga and Marakdola.

A total of 2210 hectares of the area out of 18860.58 hectares in Garbhanga have been encroached by 1312 households, as per the RTI data.  In Gotanagar, a total of 126 hectares of have been encroached out of 171 hectares of the area by 1192 households.

On the other hand, 2500 hectares of the area out of 6075 hectares have been encroached in Afrikala (West) by 385 households, whereas, in Rani, a total of 113 hectares have been encroached by 36 households.

In Fatasil, a total of 6302 households – the highest in Kamrup (Metro) – have encroached a total of 220 hectares of the area out of 670.44 hectares of the area.

On the other hand, 3312 households have encroached 385 hectares of the area in Hengrabari out of 628 hectares of the area.

There are a total of 321 reserve forests in Assam. A total of 13,54,467.62 hectares of the area out of 3,73,876,95 hectares of the area has been encroached, as per the RTI data.

“If this is the condition of Guwahati, the seat of power, one can only imagine the condition in other parts of Assam specially in the districts where illegal migrants are the majority of the population. These people are mostly illegal migrants as indigenous people don’t need to go and stay in forests,” said Upamanyu Hazarika, convener of Prabrajan Virodhi Manch.

“The million-dollar question now is, after the publication of the NRC, will these encroached areas be free from encroachment or it will only get worse?” asked an activist of a pressure group against illegal encroachment.