Image: Northeast Now

Miscreants in Lakhimpur’s “non-existent” Pabha Reserve Forest vandalized the on-going plantation drive under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Act-2008 of Assam Environment and Forest department.

The incident took place on Thursday afternoon as hundreds of people armed with sticks and sharp weapons entered the plantation site and destroyed the infrastructure built for the protection of the project.

The attackers ransacked the entrance gate, concrete posts and a kilometre long under-construction fencing of the plantation site measuring 50 hectares of land at the Pabha Reserve Forest under Harmutty Forest Range.

The attackers also threatened to kill the workers of the plantation project carried out by Karmajyoti Yuva Nirman Sanstha, Dhemaji. A complaint has been lodged before the Deputy Commissioner of Lakhimpur.

The Pabha Reserve Forest in Lakhimpur district was declared a reserved forest in 1936 and was famed for wild buffalo populations.

However, in the last five decades, the reserve forest has completely lost its existence due to massive encroachment. The forest department serves eviction notices to the encroached people in the Pabha Reserve Forest regularly.

But it has been withheld due to intervention by the judiciary. It was also alleged that the local forest personnel extract money from the encroached settlers in time to time by serving eviction notices.

On February 2018 state Forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma visited the area and asked to start a massive afforestation drive in Pabha.

Accordingly, afforestation drive under 2019-2020 CAMPA scheme in Pabha Reserve Forest was started and Karmajyoti Yuva Nirman Sanstha, Dhemaji was given the task of implementing it.

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: farhana.ahmed777@gmail.com