In the past four years, a large area of Manas National Park, a World Heritage Site has been encroached.
A little less than 18 square kilometres of Bhuyanpara range, the core area of Manas, was found encroached upon. Google Earth images recently showed that encroachment has spread to 22 square kilometres in the range.
An eviction drive was carried out in Bhuyanpara on December 22, 2016, clearing some 1,600 hectares of encroachment. The encroachers, however, returned, derailing the process. In the second phase of the eviction in February last year, there was opposition by local people and the forest authorities could not do much about it.
Bhuyanpara is an important habitat for the wildlife. The other range, Panbari, is already encroached.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had told India last year that it should clear Manas from encroachment if it wanted to put the park on the Unesco World Heritage list. At present, only the park’s wildlife sanctuary, and not the entire park, features on the World Heritage Site list.
In 2017-18, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 439.79 lakh, out of a total approved amount of Rs 617.83 lakh, for the park under Project Tiger.
The park will have to submit an updated report on the state of conservation of the property to the World Heritage Centre by December 1 this year for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.