Eviction drive in Assam's Orang National Park to clear animal corridor
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Tezpur: A four-day-long eviction drive to clear an “encroached” animal corridor in Assam’s Orang National Park was launched by the government on Sunday amid heavy security, a senior official said.

The operation will be carried out in Sonitpur district for the first two days while the exercise will be conducted for the remaining two days in Darrang district.

The Orang National Park is spread over an area of 89 sq km in Sonitpur and Darrang districts and the eviction exercise is being carried out to clear “encroached” land for an animal corridor to Kaziranga National Park.

Sonitpur deputy commissioner Deba Kumar Mishra said all the areas to be covered by the eviction drive are char’ (riverine) areas in the district.

“Eviction drive was carried out in five char areas today and it will be done in another four such spots on Monday. The drive went off smoothly today,” he said.

Nearly 800 families were residing in the encroached land and the majority of them had already cleared the area, the official said.

Over 13,000 acre in the National Park is targeted to be cleared during the operation, of which more than 6,800 acre are in Sonitpur.

The Himanta Biswa Sarma-led dispensation in the state has been carrying out eviction exercises in the state after assuming power in May 2021.

In one of the largest eviction drives in Assam, the administration in a three-day exercise from February 14 cleared 2,099 hectare in Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary and nearby revenue villages in Sonitpur district, affecting almost 12,800 people.

On February 15, in Digboi of Tinsukia district in upper Assam, security personnel resorted to lathi charge when alleged encroachers of railway land pelted stones to prevent an eviction drive there.

On the same day, the Barpeta district administration carried out an eviction drive in Bhabanipur area to clear nearly 300 hectare belonging to Gopal Dev Aata Satra (Vaishnavite monastery).

In Pava Reserve Forest under Lakhimpur district, the administration started an eviction drive to clear 450 hectare of encroached land on January 10, which continued for several days, displacing around 500 families of “illegal settlers”.

The drive in Nagoan’s Batadrava on December 19 was billed as one of the largest in the region as it uprooted more than 5,000 alleged encroachers.

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It was followed by another exercise on December 26 to clear 400 bighas in Barpeta.

Setting aside opposition criticism, the chief minister had on December 21 last year told the state Assembly that eviction drives to clear government and forest lands in Assam would continue as long as the BJP is in power.

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