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How illegal immigrants have ruined 39 per cent of India’s forest cover


New Delhi, Oct 15: A delegation of students have demanded that the Assam like update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) be undertaken in all the other north eastern states as well.

How illegal immigrants have ruined 39 per cent of India’s forest cover

A delegation of North East Students' Organisation, a forum of student bodies from Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh met with Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh and demanded that the NRC be implemented in the rest of Northeast as well.

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The forum said that Northeast cannot be a dumping ground for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and hence NRC must be updated in other states as well as it would help detect foreigners, delete their names from the voters lists and deport them by signing a repatriation treaty with Bangladesh.

Why all of Northeast needs an NRC:

As pointed out rightly by the students' forum, Northeast has over the years indeed become a dumping ground for illegal immigrants. While they have been protected over the years due to vote bank politics, they also harm the economy a great deal, rob locals of opportunities and not to mention pose a high security risk.

The figures where the illegal immigrants are concerned is startling. In Assam alone 40 lakh have been left out of the draft. The entire country has over 2 crore illegal immigrants, with most of them settled in the Northeastern states and West Bengal.

Northeast over the years has become a safe landing and settling point for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The reasons are multi-fold. For starters the large scale migration from Bangladesh to India has been possible to the Porus Indo-Bangladesh border of 4,096 kilometres. There have been major complaints that the fencing is not complete as yet.

Many decided to leave Bangladesh owing to pressure on land and increasing unemployment. The rise in population has also been cited as one of the major reasons for this big influx into India.

While in India, the illegal immigrants were aided thanks to competitive politics and the patronage extended to them by political parties. Further exercises to control the problem were always blocked by a powerful Bangladesh lobby in India, which has successfully over the years blocked correct information about the gravity of the problem.

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The burden on India:

The social implications on India thanks to such a large influx of illegal immigrants is immense. Right from the degradation of forests to communal tensions to terror recruitments, the illegal immigrants pose a problem in almost every field.

The first major impact was on the forests. With land becoming an absolute necessity, several political parties over the years looked the other way when forests were being cut to facilitate land for the illegal immigrants. The impact was such that that at least 39 per cent of forest land was lost due to this problem. The forests were cleared to make way for the illegal immigrants. Over the years, they build houses which gradually turned into colonies. Further large tracts of land were used for cultivation.

The locals were however the worst hit. The illegal immigrants were employed owing to cheap labour. Over the years they became the preferred lot as labour came cheap as a result of which the locals lost out. This also had an overall impact on the daily wage structure. The increase in the population led to the decrease in daily wage as a result of which the local was hit once again.

The financial burden on the state governments too was felt in a large way. The states had to increase the spend on both education and healthcare for the sake of the illegal immigrants.

Another major problem has been relating to communal tensions and terrorism. The illegal immigrants became an issue which the locals would raise as a result of which it led to communal tensions. Further they became easy targets for terror groups both in the Northeast as well Bangladesh.

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The other major issue that India has noticed over the years is that the illegal immigrants have been rapidly spreading to other parts of the country. With land filling up in the Northeastern states and also West Bengal, their influx was steadily seen in states as Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra.

In numbers:

Among all the states, Assam has borne the brunt of this problem the most. Between 1951 to 2011, the population growth in Assam was at 288.21 per cent as opposed to the 235.1 per cent for all of India.

Their numbers have grown so rapidly that they are able to influence the result of an election in nearly 32 per cent of the constituencies in Assam. The problem is similar in the other Northeastern states as well. In West Bengal, a state which refuses to accept the problem the situation over there is calamitous.

Former former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing Amar Bhushan tells OneIndia that the numbers are staggering. The information that I have suggests that between 1971 and 1996 the number of illegal immigrants in India grew by 266 per cent.

In the year 2004, the then minister of state for home, Sriprakash Jaiswal had said that there were 12 million such people living in 17 different states as on December 31 2001.

He also said that Assam accounted fro 50 lakh, while the number of illegal immigrants in West Bengal stood at 57 lakh. However he went on to withdraw his reply. In 2006, the Rajya Sabha was told that there are 20 million illegal immigrants living in India.

The increasing numbers should also be seen in the context of an evil design being hatched by Pakistan. The idea is to steadily increase the numbers and cause as much instability as possible, so that a Greater East Pakistan can be declared.

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