HELPLESS against the degradation
of forests, the Assam forest departwent is enlisting "people's cooperation" against encroachers, poachers and political extremists. The
department has set up joint forest
management committees that will
involve local people. The committees will take on plantation work
as well as protect the forests and
receive a share of the benefits in
payment. The state is planning to
include forest protection in the
Eighth Plan and strengthen its forest
Despite intensive patrolling, at lug 90 rhinos died in the Kaziranga National Park last year, 35 of them Itilled by poachers for their horns terrect to be unicientitleci, is because forest custodians are often hand-in-glove with poachers and manipulate rhino population figures so as to cover up the extent of their slaughter.
Most of the encroachment into the 7,562-ha Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is said to be by immigrants who have settled on a huge char (island) formed where the Brahmaputra splits into two streams in north-central, Assam. Forest officials contend that unless these settlers are evicted from the char, the flora and fauna of the sanctuary will be lost irretrievably. But the eviction could not be carried out due to political pressures.
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