Assam forest minister Rakibul Hussain today formally introduced time cards to regulate traffic on National Highway 37 to protect animals from flood-hit Kaziranga National Park while crossing the road during the flood season.
After reviewing the flood scenario in the park, Hussain told The Telegraph that nine checkposts would come up along the 52km stretch of the park for compliance with the time card rule next year.
“Vehicles will have to travel at 40km per hour from today. We will first set up two checkposts (Kohora and Bagori range) to be manned by the transport department next year. Subsequently, we will set up seven more. Those violating traffic regulations will be either fined or their licence cancelled,” Hussain said.
Hussain, however, said that as of now there was nothing to be worried about. “We have water between one-and-a-half feet to three feet. If the water stays beyond four days then it is worrisome,” he said.
The forest minister further said the park area has to be expanded as soon as possible for better conservation of rhinos. He has requested the revenue department to ensure early acquisition of areas for expansion.
Sources said the ideal requirement for a rhino in Kaziranga is 5-10sq km, but each rhino has only 0.2sqkm of the park available to them.
In comparison, the per capita area availability of rhinos in Kruger National Park in South Africa is 1.48sqkm. The park will have to target for an area of at least 2,000 sq km to the rhinoceros if the future of the species is to be secured.
The department has submitted a comprehensive report to Gauhati High Court on long-term solutions for protection of one-horned rhinos in the park where the park expansion area issue has been dealt elaborately.
“There has been six additions to KNP but no progress on the third, fifth and sixth additions. If we get these additions, the park area will be almost double. Loss of 84 sq km since 1914 because of erosion has also compounded our problem. We have now requested the deputy commissioners of Golaghat, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong and Sonitpur districts to help us with the additional areas,” he said.
Forest staff hailed
Six forest personnel of Manas National Park were felicitated by the Baksa district administration yesterday on the occasion of Independence Day for combating wildlife crime.
The officials felicitated were D.D. Boro, Prabin Ray, Dilip Rai, Panuram Das, Tapan Borgayary and Bhupen Basumatary.
The staff were lauded for their efforts in catching a rhino poacher along with prima facie evidence of rhino meat, hide and bones by conducting a raid in August last year.
The Uttar Anchalik Group Dong Bundh Committee was awarded the chief minister’s Community Action Award for development.
This committee is responsible for community-constructed micro-dams that help in checking soil erosion and floods along the Pagladiya river and have significantly contributed towards disaster risk reduction in the downstream agricultural areas.
More than 20 per cent of Baksa district is under forests of Manas tiger reserve. Besides agriculture, livelihood support is mainly provided by forests.