Laika-Dodhia residents seeking permanent settlement outside Dibru-Saikhowa National Park lost a 16-year-old boy due to lack of medical facilities in their temporary shelter on the outskirts of Tinsukia town. Since December 21, when 3000 people marched to Tinsukia town, leaving their homes inside the National Park, five people have succumbed to adverse living conditions inside makeshift camps.
Dhananjay Tarak from Laika-Pomua, one of the villages inside Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, reached Leziahola Borguri village on December 21, along with 3000 others from Laika. According to his father, Ghanshyam Tarak, Dhananjay complained of a severe ache in his abdomen. “We took him to a local nursing home where he was referred to the Dibrugarh Medical College. There are no health facilities at this campsite, else he would have been diagnosed earlier,” said Tarak, the teenager’s father.
Apko Taid, a resident of Laika village and a local leader, said that the Assam Government did not fulfil its resettlement promise by January 31. So far, around 3000 families got ₹1 lakh as compensation. “We have not been paid any compensation for the land we lost,” said Taid.
Tinsukia district embarked on the exercise for the resettlement in January. Two sites in the Tinsukia district and one in Lakhimpur were finalised. However, the process hit a roadblock after locals dependent on one of the relocation sites protested against Laika-Dodhia residents’ resettlement.
“We feel cheated as the land promised by the Tinsukia District Administration was not in the condition for human settlement. Our people may face threats to their lives. Some of these areas have already been encroached,” Taid added.
Ajay Doley, the Takam Mising Porin Kebang Tinsukia district Vice President said that the situation in the camps is becoming critical. “Our discussion with District Administration did not go well. Our demands for the relocation of the people have not been met,” Doley said.
With Assam being declared as a Disturbed Area ahead of the state assembly elections, Laika residents feel wary of protesting. “But we will have to come to the streets again if our demands remain unmet. Even if they shoot us on sight,” Taid said.
Around 12000 residents of these clusters of villages are demanding their promised relocation for the last two decades after losing large swathes of communal land to erosion or being converted to wildlife conservation areas.