No talk on tiger reserve unless DWLS is re-demarcated: Mishmi organizations

[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Oct 19: Organisations including the Idu Mishmi Cultural & Literary Society (IMCLS), the apex organization of the community, have called for re-demarcation and review of the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary (DWLS) in Dibang Valley district.
The call came during a consultative meeting of members of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and officials of the state’s forest department with the community on 16 October in Anini. The NTCA hopes to declare the Dibang Valley sanctuary as a tiger reserve. As of now, the community organisations say that any talk on declaration of the tiger reserve can proceed only after re-demarcation.
A forest department source informed that a committee, comprising officers of the Dibang Valley district administration, Idu Mishmi organizations, and the forest department will be formed regarding the re-demarcation.
Earlier, the forest department had received a representation from the villagers of Dambeun, Mipi and Etalin-Malinye blocks near the DWLS, seeking reorganization of the boundary of the sanctuary to 2500 sq kms from the current 4149 sq kms.
The villagers had written to the forest department following a gram sabha meeting, where it had been decided to seek de-notification of a portion of the sanctuary.
The organizations in the representation said that the declaration was “done unilaterally by suppressing, misleading and misrepresenting the indigenous habitants,” depriving the community of their land and their cultural and traditional values.
The sanctuary was notified in January 1998, while the preliminary notification was issued on 26 November, 1991.
According to the representation, the proclamation notification for the sanctuary was issued on 31 March, 1997, for inviting claims and objections. In July that year, 118 members of the community had written to the district administration, which was followed by letters from PR leaders and GBs of Mipi circle.
The latest memorandum, which was submitted to the PCCF (wildlife), read that the submissions by the citizens were overlooked and the sanctuary was notified without proper mandate and consultations with the affected local population.
“The indigenous habitants are not against the constitution of the wildlife sanctuary but pray that the land acquired for the purpose be justified in such (a way) that the traditional values and ancestral land would not be disturbed. The tiger reserve would not be welcomed until the matter of DWLS is amicably resolved,” the representation read.
“The total area of Dibang Valley district is 9,149 sq kms, within which the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across 4149 sq kms. Half of the district is under the sanctuary,” said Eva Mipi of the IMCLS, speaking to this daily.
Last year, the IMCLS had written to the NTCA and the union environment, forests & climate change ministry, stating that the community wishes to be consulted during deliberations on the Dibang tigers as the organization has forwarded a cultural model of tiger conservation.
The IMCLS wrote the letter following reports that the state government was planning to request the NTCA to declare the Dibang sanctuary as a tiger reserve.
The NTCA had earlier written to the forest department twice – in 2014 and 2016 – seeking a proposal from the state government for declaration of the sanctuary as a tiger reserve.
Rezina Mihu, a member of the Integrated Mountain Initiative, said the meeting “has brought a ray of hope for the community,” adding that the conservation of wildlife “is intrinsically synonymous with the traditional and cultural practices of the Idu-Mishmi community.”
“Talks of a tiger reserve will have to be postponed unless the DWLS issue is resolved,” he said in a statement, adding that the hopes of the locals are for immediate action and quick resolution.
The other signatories to the memorandum are the Idu-Mishmi Elite Society, panchayat leaders, the Dibang Valley Students’ Union, and the All Idu Mishmi Students’ Union.