Guwahati Locality Functioning without Electricity for 2 Years
• Residents of Janasimalu are functioning without electricity for 2 years
• Multiple complaints raised with organisations concerned but no progress
• Bad roads, no water supply are other major concerns of the people affected by Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary eviction
• Schools, places of worship remain broken
• Residents request government to give them basic necessities
On November 27, 2017, the residents of Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary, in Assam's Kamrup district, woke up to their worst nightmare. Many families were rendered homeless after an eviction drive was carried out by the government. People continue to live in the area in makeshift houses. After two years, the residents of Janasimalu – a village within the physical boundaries of the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary and which falls under ward 31 (C) of GMC, are still facing a lot of issues.
Residents claimed that ever since the eviction, there has been no electricity in the area. People are using solar lights and lamps to perform their day-to-day activities. Bad roads and no water supply have also been major concerns of the residents. A local claimed that during the eviction, wells were covered with mud and sand so that residents do not have access to water and were made bound to leave.
Around 60 families currently reside in Janasimalu which is located in the Panjabari area of the city. While their houses remain broken their hopes remain high. A few have managed to build their houses back but there are many who continue to live in broken ones due to monetary issues. Not just houses, schools and places of worship were also damaged.
Suren Das, a resident of the village told G Plus, “We have repeatedly raised this concern with many ministers and organisations concerned. We have tried all possible ways to reach them but no one seems to care. Officials say that they will take care of it but it has been two years and we are still living in this terrible condition.”
“After the eviction we had a Panchayat election and just prior to that, the members visited us and made several promises just like they always do and after their win, they forgot about all the promises made. It is the 21st century and we are living like people from the old times with lamps, diyas and candles,” he added.
Recalling the incident, Suren Das said, “There was a time when NGOs were giving us water but the government came to know about it and stopped that as well.”
Das also mentioned that during the eviction, not just their houses but wells were also broken and filled with mud and sand so that the villagers would be unable to use them.
“I’ve been living here since the past 30 years. We were the first ones to make the roads of this village. Till today the government has done nothing for the roads here. Not only roads, there is no supply of water as well,” said Gajendra Deka, another resident of the village.
“In this village, the rich and poor have joined hands to fight all the pain that we have been facing since 2017. It is just sad to see how no one is doing anything about this village. My only request to the government is to give us our basic necessities,” Deka added.
Talking about rehabilitation, the locals said that it is now impossible for them to leave the place since it is the only place they call home.
Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the eastern fringes of Guwahati. It is home to at least 250 species of birds and 44 species of mammals besides reptiles and amphibians. Officials informed that Amchang was first declared a reserve forest in 1953. It was then converted into Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in 2004 after combining the Amchang, Khanapara and South Amchang reserve forests.
As per a Gauhati High Court order, the Assam government carried out the eviction in the area on November 27, 2017. The area was declared an eco-sensitive zone (ECZ) by the environment ministry around the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Reports suggested that the Gauhati High Court, on August 2, 2017 directed the state government to carry out the eviction after hearing a PIL by an NGO named Early Birds, in the ECZ of Amchang. However, there were also reports that the government took the step after some party MLAs, who represent Mishing dominated constituencies, opposed the move.
Most of the people who were evicted belonged to indigenous Bodo, Rabha, Mishing and other tribes. It is said that people moved into the forest area adjacent to the sanctuary over a long period of time from the flood affected districts of Majuli, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji.