ITANAGAR, Sep 23: The Youth Mission for Clean River (YMCR) -Arunachal Pradesh has sought “de-reservation of the reserved forest land of certain square kilometre for human settlement from the Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary (IWS) and necessary steps to protect the remaining areas for the wildlife.”
It said that “if the government cannot protect the reserved and protected land, then the government should opt for de-reservation before it is too late.”
One of the eight wildlife sanctuaries of the state, the IWS, earlier known as the Itanagar Reserve Forest was notified as a sanctuary on 2nd February, 1978 and includes the Pachin River in the south, Neorochi (Neorch) in the northeast, Pam River (Poma) in the east and Chingke (Senki) stream in the north.
The IWS notification was issued before the creation of Papum Pare district from the greater Subansiri district.
In a letter to the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) here on Wednesday, YMCR chairman and advocate SD Loda pointed out that the 140.30 sq km IWS, under Papum Pare district is “under threat due to rampant encroachment by private individuals and even government departments.”
Loda pointed out that urbanization and settlement expansions are responsible for clearance of the forest, and as such the rich habitation has reduced to a great extent.
“The population of the hornbill, the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh, has been badly affected. Earlier, their presence was uniform throughout the sanctuary, but presently, they are concentrated only in the eastern and northern parts of the sanctuary,” he said.
Claiming that “the activities on the part of the private individual(s) and the government agencies are responsible for displacement of the wildlife in the region,” Loda said that “such activities are being carried out without any forest clearance from the competent authorities and is a clear violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.”
Loda also said that the urban pressure and unplanned town upgrade are the reasons for the extinction of wild animals in the IWS and held the government, especially the forest department, responsible for failing to protect the sanctuary.
“The past government should have approached the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and National Board for Wildlife for de-notification for the larger interest of the people of the state. The reality is that no government wanted to pay the fine incurred in case of dereservation, which may now cost crores of rupees, the exact amount of which can be obtained from the forest department,” Loda said.
Saying that “It will be wrong to blame the people around the ICR alone,” Loda added that “the liability is also on the forest department in particular and the state government as a whole. Each and everyone, including the state government, has already violated the sanctuary and the reserve forest. Land allotment within the sanctuary itself is illegal.”
The organisation requested the government to constitute a committee to collect the status of the IWS and initiate appropriate step for the de-reservation/ de-notification of certain portions of the already encroached areas from the sanctuary after paying the necessary fund to the MoEF for human settlement and take necessary step to protect the remaining areas for the wildlife.