Dump yard and railway line leaves hapless Deepor Beel at their mercy

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Dump yard and railway line leaves hapless Deepor Beel at their mercy

Srijit Banerjee | July 06, 2019 13:49 hrs

GUWAHATI: Deepor Beel is in danger, and there is no myth about it. The continuous exploitation of the water body has become dangerous for the eco-system in the area especially for the marine and avian life.  Deepor Beel was declared as a Ramsar site and wetland as per the Ramsar Convention on 2002 in Iran.
 
The situation has become so bad that fish from the beel, which was once considered to be pricy catches because of its taste and nutritional value, now has far fewer buyers. The Keots, which is a fishing community of the area, has raised concern over the continuous contamination of the water body. The community is completely dependent on the water body for their livelihood and sustenance.

While fishing is banned to protect the wetland, no conditions have been created for the wetland to prevent it from getting choked with waste dump and to die slowly because of the deposition of waste that is killing the marine life and spoiling the very beel that the government is trying to protect.
 
The waste water is directed through the Bharalu and Kalmoni rivers into the beel. These channels also carry other industrial and hospital wastes straight into the beel. The water has turned black and smelly.

The wetland is home to hundreds of different varieties of birds and fish species and hosts many endangered migratory birds during the winter. The release of sewage into the water is causing the rampant fall of oxygen levels resulting in the death of fishes.

Another victim of the continuous exploitation of the wetland is the Greater Adjutant Stork, an endangered species that has been facing the brunt of the continuous damage of its territory because of the dump yard that is located near the water body which is slowly destroying their habitat. Many such storks have been found dead near the beel owing to the continuous pollution and also because the birds used to eat trash at the garbage site.  Many have even wandered off into the urban areas triggering man-animal conflict.

Even after repeated notifications issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the state authorities are not doing enough or in an urgent manner to save the Ramsar site from dying out. With no proper waste segregation done by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation, all the dumped wastes just sink into the water body killing the ecology of the area.

The railway line passing through the beel and Rani Reserve Forest is equally responsible for the destruction of the eco-system of the area. Since the railway line has been active, 14 elephants have died after getting hit by passing trains.


Deepor Beel residents organise protest against proposed double rail track  

The residents of Deepor Beel, on 2nd July, carried out a protest near the water body against the construction of the proposed double railway track.

The residents near Deepor Beel have pointed out multiple reasons for the slow destruction of the ecology in that area and the danger that the elephants would face as the double railway line will not only pass through the beel but also through the Rani Reserve Forest. The proposed line would pass through four elephant corridors of which the Railways have proposed to build only one underpass tunnel leaving the rest three open which will render the elephants, often passing through these corridors towards deep forest, vulnerable to accidents.
    
 Pramod Kalita a resident of Deepor beel area informed that the residents have carried a protest near the water body. “We carried out the protest to make our voices heard. We are taking such a stand to protect the bio-diversity of the area. The construction of the proposed double track needs to stop to protect the elephants in the area from getting killed further after getting hit by the trains. The Railways have proposed to build only one tunnel in the area but there are four such corridors. The Railways have informed that they will not reduce the speed of the trains while they pass through these corridors. What would that mean? More elephants will die as a result. We want the chief minster to take up the issue and ensure safety and preservation of wetland,” said Pramod Kalita.

“Due to the continuous dumping of waste and sewage water into the beel the marine life including the water snakes are almost on the verge of extinction. Last year many fishes have died because of the continuous onslaught. Even the birds who come to the wetland have dipped because they don’t have anything to eat as the population of fish has declined. These birds used to come to the beel to feed on fish as their primary food”, informed Kalita. 

The government filed an affidavit at the NGT a few months ago stating that they would shift the dumping ground to Chandrapur, but no action has been taken by them in this regard yet.

The residents will file a Public Litigation Interest (PIL) in this regard at the Gauhati High Court and will further move to the NGT to stop the construction of the new tracks at any cost.

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