Unkindest cut

By Dileep Chandan
Published: Tuesday 15 July 1997

Environmentalists and citizens fear that the largescale cutting of hills in the surrounding areas of Guwahati may lead to the extinction of wildlife population in urban areas. Guwahati has the largest 'urban wildlife' with nearly 590 different surviving species, including 18 mammals. But today, many species have migrated to other areas. Cutting of hills has also led to soil erosion and caused damage to the drainage system of the city. Despite a ban imposed by deputy commissioner of the Kamrup district, illegal hill cutting still continues unabated.

The same is the state with the forests surrounding Guwahati. Although there are nine reserve forests around the city, today most of them have been depleted. For example, on the south-east part of the city is the Hengrabari reserve forest. The entire forest cover of 600 ha has been reduced to less than 100 ha. Forest department officials admit that there are encroachments inside the reserve forest area despite the government's efforts at eviction. "In 1995, we had evicted about 150 families, but they have come back and reoccupied their place," said a rueful forest department worker.

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