Local residents seek realignment of rail tracks at Deepor Beel (Guwahati)
Rokibuz Zaman,Times of India
September 7, 2021
Villagers in the vicinity of Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary have written
500 letters to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change
(MoEFCC), seeking a realignment of a broad-gauge railway line, passing
through the northern side of the wetland, to the southern, in compliance
with a National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) order. Local residents have also
objected to the Railways’ current proposal of doubling the
tracks on the southern side, which is much closer to the major elephant
habitat, Rani Garbhanga Reserve Forest, than the existing one.
“We have demanded to shift the existing railway tracks to the northern side
as pointed out in the NGT order, dated February 11, 2020, completely
leaving out the five elephant corridors and saving the ecology of the
Deepor Beel. We have asked the ministry to take all the necessary steps to
conserve Deepor Beel under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. We seek
ecotourism and other sustainable recreational activities for both the
economical and ecological conservation of the wetland,” said Alifa Zibrani,
a member of the city-based green group, The Midway Journey.
“We fear that the realignment of the existing railway tracks will affect
the local residential areas where nature, wild animals and humans co-exist.
The doubling of tracks will change the dynamics of man-animal co-existence
to conflict,” Alifa said.
The local indigenous people inhabiting in Mikirpara-Chakardo revenue
village close to the wetland, about 10 km southwest of Guwahati, have also
objected to the proposed construction of a tunnel in the hilly stretch of
Rani Garbhanga Reserve Forest (for Railway gate No. 273 and No. 274), in
the name of preventive measures. “We are worried and scared that two
railway tunnels have been proposed in Rani Reserve Forest, which is a
notified elephant corridor. This has been done without obtaining public
hearing and in violation of the Supreme Court order, which is an illogical
act,” the letter read.
Green activist Pramod Kalita has found a defect in the draft notification
of the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Deepor Beel notified by the MoFCC on