Thursday, January 22, 2009

Save Deepor Beel Andolan

One of my friend and senior Ajoy Das from leading environmental group of Assam Aaranyak is taking the initiative for the conservation of Deepor beel the lone Ramsar site of state of Assam. I am here attaching the fact sheet that he prepared and I urge all the concern people, environmentalist, scientist, wildlife biologists and general mass to support this noble cause--
(Subjected to correction and authentic inputs)
Save Deepor Beel Andolan

This facts sheet has been prepared for private circulation among the environmental lovers so that they can democratically resist the plan of N. F. railways plan to newly construct the railway track near deepor beel which would be towards Meghalaya (main current issue of Save Deepor Beel Andolan).The railway track is just an attempt to fill up few influential people’s pockets in the name of development. The existing railway track has already caused devastation and would cause more due to more frequenting of goods trains. Deepor beel still fights with number of problems part from the goods railway track.
→Communities residing near deepor beel, of which mostly are tribal and agriculturist, have been harmoniously residing near deepor beel since time immemorial and thus they are integral part of deepor beel. The Communities are the part of wetland conservation throughout the world.
→Deepor beel serves as a storm water basin for the people of Guwahati. It has medicinal plants which the communities depend on them since ages to cure their diseases (Traditional and Indigenous knowledge system). Each year there are migratory birds which comes to deepor beel. Weather birds like- Golden plover, Little-winged plover, bank myna etc, have a sharp decreasing trend. Nowadays, they are almost not visible at all. Deepor beel has also endemic birds. There are more than 219 bird species of which 70 species are waterfowl, 20 amphibian, 12 lizards, 18 snakes and 6 turtle and tortoise species, apart from the 50 fish species along with 18 genera of phytoplankton and 21 genera of zooplanktons are recorded so far from this beel.
→Deepor beel is a culturally important for the people of Assam. Way back during British regime Deshabhakta Tarun Ram Phukan wrote an autobiography called ‘Tarun Ram Phukanar Shikar Kahini’. People of Assam do not need any introduction of late Tarun Ram Phukan, the freedom fighter who fought against the British. In his autobiography he has given vivid description about deepor beel and the waterfowls found there. His hunting associate was Late Tabak Mikir who’s Grandsons Mr. Lakhsman Teron and Mr. Keshab Teron still resides near deepor beel.
→It was proposed as Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 1992 and it still remains so. Unfortunately, it has not yet been declared as sanctuary till date.
→In the year 1989/90(year not known exactly), construction of railway line over/north bank/south bank of deepor beel was proposed. Amidst lot of cry and resistance from environmental groups and the local people residing at deepor beel, the railway track at the south bank was made depriving many people of their agricultural and residential land land.
→By way of notification dated Dispur, the 31st May ’95 all the wetlands were made reserved wetlands in Assam due to their ecological importance.
→In the year 2001/2002 the railway line was completed which intersect the elephant corridor of the site. The deepor beel also interacts with the other wild life of Rani Garbhanga Reserve forests at high note which has been greatly destroyed because of the goods railway track
→Due to the railway line life of many elephants have turned to death. Since the existence of this Railway track near about eight (8) elephants have been killed, besides minor and major injuries the elephants suffer from time to time.
→Deepor Beel was granted Ramsar site recognition on 19/8/2002 bearing Ramsar site no. 1207 under Convention on wetlands of Wetlands of International Importance Especially as waterfowl Habitat. popularly known as Ramsar Convention. As such India has international obligation to protect and preserve Deepor Beel.In Assam deeor beel is the only one such wetland of international reputation.
→On 7th July 2005 at Vigyan Path, Paschim Boragaon, Garchuk, Guwahati-781035 was made a Garbage Dump of the entire garbage of the Guwahati city. The garbage dump is just near deepor beel touching the water of deepor beel.The garbage dump is very near to the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology(IASST),Production center of ARTFED near deepor beel and also Pragjoytish English High School.
→Recently, some part of the area surrounding the deepor beel has also been declared as Eco-Sensitive Zone. Sahara India had to stop their large scale construction plan of building up a township after declaring it so.
→Deepor beel has also been included as directory of Asian wetlands as wetland type-14.
→One year back, notification was issued for acquisitions of land for the new construction of railway track .Notices are being issued to various cultivators and residential owners of the land for acquiring their land. As such, the rail way track towards Pamohi, Moinakhurung, and Garughuli and so on would affect more than 500 families. The rail way track is primarily to transit coal from Megahalya. The people of the deepor beel region have remained helpless on various such issues. They desperately need help. [Information collected from local people]
Pleaser circulate this facts sheet to all concerned and join the Save Deepor Beel Andolan providing your valuable suggestions, show of interest, further information on the facts sheet, contact addresses, numbers and e-mail ids (if any) to --

Ajoy Kumar Das
Contact no.9957387738
e-mail- ,
50, Samanwoy Path, Survey, Beltola, Guwahati-781028
Please note that any co-operation on this issue would be kept secret.
I urge all the prople to extend their helping hand to Ajoy.
Kripal-the naturelover
Mr. Kripaljyoti Mazumdar, JRF
G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment & Development,
North East Unit, Itanagar Arunachal Pradesh, India-791113.
Phone-0091-360 -2216423(O); Mob: +91-9615041048
6, Tribeni Path, Chandan Nagar
Six Mile, Guwahati-781022Assam (India)
"Nature has been for me, as long as
I remember, a source of solace, inspiration,
adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, and a companion." — Lorraine Anderson

In the Valley of Black-necked Crane

For last couple of week I had been to the Dirang, one of the most beautiful valley in the westernmost part of Arunachal Pradesh as a part of my field trip. The land of raising sun, Arunachal Pradesh having a home of 26 major tribes and 110 sub-tribes, it provides the blend of vast cultural, ritual, and ethnic diversity and is perhaps one of the richest area in terms of its floral, faunal, cultural ethnic and ritual diversity in India. With 26 major tribes and more than 110 sub-tribes, the state supports over 600 species of Orchids, more than 200 species of mammalian fauna and about 738 species of birds are being recorded to occur till now. In the western part of Arunachal Pradesh, which was earlier known as Kameng, one can enjoy the beauty of tropical evergreen forests found along the foothills of southern part of the West Kameng district bordering with Assam (up to an elevation gradient of 900m). As you move up, the forest patterns turns into subtropical evergreen or mixed forest which ranges up to an altitudinal range from 900 to 1800 m msl. In Dirang valley you will find a mixture of mixed forest along with the temperate forest. As you move towards Tawang, in upward direction, before reaching the Sela pass, (which is the world’s second highest motorable road) in lower sela area, the subalpine fir vegetation started (which is the dominant in the sela pass region upto an altitude of 4500 m msl). Above 4500m height the vegetation is mostly Alpine vegetation dominated by herbaceous species like Rheum, Arenaria, Saussurea etc. along with Rhododendron sp.
Dirang, which is also a District block with an area of 139,940 ha, of which 63.5 % area is under evergreen forest cover, whereas 35.7% are under the deciduous and degraded forest cover, provides general land cover pattern which is smooth and simple. The steep slopes of almost all river valleys where moderate erosion is expected, are covered by degraded forests. Sangti village and valley which is almost about 30-40 minutes drive from Dirang, at an altitude of 1500 m, known for its wintering Black necked Crane Gurus nigricollis. The Black necked crane is one of the rarest bird species found in Himalayan belt and it has been listed under Vulnerable category according to BirdLife International. Sangti valley along with Zimithang is the two valleys that this species of bird visit in Western Arunachal Pradesh along with other four sites in entire Arunachal.
The Monpa tribes, which practices Buddhism, protect these species according to their traditional believes and faith in this two valleys. Monpas played an important role of intermediaries in trade between Assam and Tibet. While they used to go to Tibetan trading market during the summers, they usually visited Assam plains during winters. Produce like chillies, vegetable, dyes, hand made paper, and husked rice traded for Tibetan salt, wool and churpi. Masks, animal hide, chillies, etc., were also important trade items of Monpas to be exchanged with Tibetan rock salt, wool, woolen cloths and Tibetan dao resembling swords. Within the Arunachal also, Monpas exchange butter, coats shoes, carpets, blankets, masks and yak cap, salt and beetle nut with Sherdukpen tribal group in exchange of cows, Assamese endicloths, mithun and animal-skins. Although Monpas are the predominant community, other five tribes also occur in this part of state, they are Sherdukpen, Khowa, Aka and Miji.
Of late the declaration of the proposed Twang West Kameng BR (also known as Tsangyang Gyatso biosphere reserve and Peace park) has let some light in for conservation efforts in the area, with participation from the locals. Tsangyang Gyatso Biosphere Reserve is named after his holiness the 6th Dalai Lama (1683-1706) who was born at Urgeling in Tawang district. GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, North East Unit is working in the proposed reserve with Human-wildlife conflict and co-existence in three different dimensions— 1). Livestock depredation and retaliatory killing of carnivores; 2). Agricultural damage induced conflict and killing of crop raiding animals; 3). Grazing competition between livestock and wild ungulates.
The western Arunachal provides tremendous scope for the wildlife biologists and sociologists to work. I will be sharing my other experiences working in this area in coming blog posts. At last I must suggest everbody to have a visit to this part of Himalay once in their lifetime......

With Regards-
Kripal-the naturelover

Kripaljyoti Mazumdar
G.B. Pant Institute for Himalayan
Environment and Development
North East Unit, Itanagr,
Arunachal Pradesh-791113

"Nature has been for me, as long as I
remember, a source of solace, inspiration,
adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, and a companion." — Lorraine Anderson