Ugly truth

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/13/2020 12:51:43 PM IST

 Nagaland Governor R.N.Ravi’s expressions of serious concern in his letter addressed to the chief minister, dated June 16,2020 and which this newspaper coined as ‘Letter-gate’ has certainly ruffled the state government’s feathers. Issues raised in the letter reflect the governor’s concern over the state of affairs in Nagaland. One of the points of concern expressed by the governor was on the rampant and blatant forcible encroachment on government reserved forest lands by “armed miscreants”. The issue of encroachment on government forest lands has destroyed several thousand acres of prime and pristine natural forests and vegetation which would have been the pride of environmentalists anywhere in the world. The governor pointedly referred to the forcible occupation of forest department quarters after forest officials were evicted from their departmental residences at Munglamukh forest colony in Dimapur district. Encroachments have also taken place inside the Intangki National Park including forests under Wokha district. Recently, the forest department had begun eviction drives at Yimparasa, Bhandari and Longayim in Wokha where hundreds of acres of land were encroached. The forest department has much bigger and challenging job in evicting encroachers inside Intangki National Park and nearby forest reserved areas. The rapid and systematic denudation and encroachment on the once famed Rangapahar reserved forest serves as mute testimony. It may be noted that when Nagaland became a state in 1963, it inherited a vast tract of forest in Dimapur area(then under Kohima Forest Division) from the government of Assam, spread over a total area of 8809 Hectares or 21,768 Acres. The pristine forest replete with valuable wood such as teak, hollock, titachap, agar, bonsum etc, to name a few, was also the home to various other rare animals and indigenous botanical species. The Rangapahar reserved forest was a protected area under the 1925 notification of the Forest department of Assam. The new state of Nagaland inherited a veritable nature’s trove. Unfortunately, the state government exhibited lack of vision, will and purpose towards protecting such a rich inheritance. From the seventies onwards, rampant poaching, illegal felling of trees and systematic encroachment by land grabbers backed by powerful elements resulted in denudation of the forest. Rangapahar forest began shrinking rapidly from 21,768 Acres to half the size by the late seventies. The negative trend continued and by 1986, the forest further shrank to hardly 1161 Acres. It was in 1986, that the government came up with a brilliant idea of establishing the Zoological Park with 1161 Acres. However, the Forest department did precious little to protect the little patch and by the early 90s, the proposed Zoological Park area further shrank to 434 Acres. Today, though the park has been fenced, this has still not deterred encroachers. It is unfortunate the special clause providing protection under 371A with regard to land and its resources has been horribly twisted and misused to legalise such activities. It is too late to lament but at least the present governor has called a spade a spade and for the betterment of the people and not those in power.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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