Authorities evict encroachers from Dimapur’s Wildlife Park
Staff Reporter | EMN
Dimapur, AugUST 2
The district administration of Dimapur, the district police and Nagaland Forest department today demolished around 21 structures, including a church, and evicted about eight families who ‘illegally’ occupied land on the outer wall of the Nagaland Zoological Park.During the eviction, enforcement agencies not only demolished the structures but also set fire to them. However, there was no report of any untoward incident save for some initial resistance from some civilians.
The eviction drive started in the early morning hours and lasted till 11 a.m. The eviction was carried out in the presence of the chief wildlife warden T Lotha, SDO (Civil) Moa Sangtam and SDPO of Niuland Mhonyamo. A total of 150 security personnel comprising Nagaland Police, IRB personnel including the armed women wing besides Forest Guards were deployed in the eviction drive.
Briefing news persons following the eviction, Chief Wildlife Warden T Lotha said the eviction was warranted as the encroachers “grossly” violated the interim court orders issued on April 24, 2012, and also the High Court’s order issued on June 11, 2012.
The wildlife warden justified the eviction by stating that the area between the boundary wall and PWD road is within the domain of the Forest department. He added that the strait of land between the boundary wall and PWD road was left for ‘beautification works’ in future.
He has cited Section 34 (A) of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 which was enforced eventually in Nagaland on December 18, 1981. He said under the Act, department officials are empowered to remove unauthorised structures in course of patrolling within the reserved forest area and sanctuary. He said the eviction drive was inevitable as the encroachers have settled in the area illegally despite periodical notifications to vacate the area.
T Lotha has also expressed serious concern over the shrinking of the Rangapahar Reserved Forest from its original area of 8809 hectares since 1925 to a mere 176 hectares at present. Informing that Forest Department is only a trustee of the government incapable of tackling the situation alone, Lotha said the effort to conserve the last vestige of wildlife habitat should be the concerted responsibility of all the public.
Today’s eviction drive was carried out on the strength of July 29, 2012, ruling of the High Court quashing the earlier order of the lower court judgement dated April 24, 2012. It may be mentioned here that Senior Civil Judge on April 24, 2012, in response to the petition, had passed an ordered not to construct permanent structures. However, forest department claimed that the encroachers have ‘grossly’ violated the court’s interim order date April 24, 2012, and the subsequent stay order ruling of High Court dated June 11, 2012.
Meanwhile, the affected families alleged that the eviction notification which was released on July 31 was issued late August 1 midnight. Corroborating the claim, affected families also alleged the notifications were posted on the house wall without delivering by hand.
In contrast, forest department officials have denied the claim but said the eviction notifications were handed to each family on July 30 accompanied by police personnel.
Intervening on the eviction drive, leaders from the Western Sumi Kukami Hoho (WSKH) were of the view that the land in question is located between the boundary wall of the Nagaland Zoological Park and the State PWD road. For that reason the ‘public” must be allowed to settle there. They also argued that eviction notifications should have been issued ‘at least few days ahead to enable them vacate to a suitable place.’
According to the department’s account, today’s eviction drive was second of its kind on the same site since 2004. Also, as part of preventive measures against such encroachments, the department is contemplating setting up barriers and deploying security personnel.