Left homeless, Assam’s flood-hit villagers attempt to encroach reserve forest
Guwahati, July 20: What do you do when hit by a natural calamity and left homeless? Naturally, you would try your best to find a new home. That's exactly what flood-hit villagers of Assam tried to do when they illegally entered a reserve forest area in search of "new and safe" homes.
The incident was reported from Assam's Tinsukia district on Wednesday.
However, authorities maintained that the attempt on the part of around 700 villagers from Laika and Dodhia villages--badly affected by floods--to erect temporary shelters inside the Tarani reserve forest, was stopped due to timely intervention.
The encroachers, according to people residing near the Tarani reserve forest, entered the protected area armed with bamboo, tarpaulin, axe and bags with the purpose of settling inside the jungle.
The situation turned volatile when residents of nearby areas of the reserve forest tried to stop the "illegal" entrants to build temporary homes inside the protected areas.
"Over 700 people, packed in more than 12 buses, suddenly arrived from nowhere early in the morning and entered the Tarani reserve forest for settling inside the jungle," Suraj Moran, headman of Tarani village, told The Telegraph.
"By the time locals got the information and gathered to block the encroachers, the people from Laika and Dodhia villages had erected several temporary shelters inside the forest. Under no circumstance shall we allow any move that will endanger the reserve forest. If the government fails to control the situation, we shall be forced to take the law and order in our hands," he added.
Dwelling is prohibited inside the Tarani reserve forest, which falls under the Doomdooma forest division in Tinsukia district.
The district administration maintained that the encroachers were not allowed to settle inside the reserve forest. The villagers from Laika and Dodhia villages have been shifted to a nearby school to avoid any damage to the protected forest, added an official.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Assam floods rose to 73 on Wednesday. The official flood report said 2.67 lakh people in 14 districts of the state were still in the grip of floods, with about 8,000 people currently lodged in relief camps in these districts.
Of the four deaths on Wednesday, two were in Morigaon and one each in South Salmara and Lakhimpur.