|The success story of the unsung green heroes and heroines of Sikaridanga|
KALAIGAON, Jan 5 - People living in seven remote villages near Sikaridanga in Udalguri district bordering Arunachal Pradesh are in a much happier mood today. They are happy not for wealth or for any personal gains. They are happy because of the creation of a new manmade forest on a barren and sandy plot of lands measuring 600 hectares, once encroached by people.
The members of the Dhansiri Sikaridanga JFMC. – Photo: Kalaigaon Correspondent
The people living in the seven villages in Udalguri district namely – No.1 Sikaridanga, No.2 Sikaridanga, Dolonibasti, Naoherua, Dakhin Naoherua, Kukurbhuka and Monai thought of a new idea of creating a manmade forest in 2013 following the successful story of JFMC, Bhairabkunda, where people had successfully transformed a barren sandy plot of 550 hectares into a picturesque heaven with plantation of more than 16 lakh well-grown saplings of various species.
In the year 2013, Premson Daimari, Bineswar Daimari, Ramesh Mushahari, Daneswar Basumatari, Proloy Daimari, Tata Daimari, Bineswar Daimari, Didim Daimari etc., approached Girindra Adhikari, DFO, Dhansiri Forest Division, Udalguri for instruction and permission. The lands were already under encroachment, mostly by Bodo and Adivasi people. Most of the wild animals and birds were either killed or chased away to Arunachal hills. A Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) was formed in 2014. This was the silent beginning of a new chapter of nature and wildlife conservation in Assam.
The proposed forest was named as Dhansiri Sikaridanga JFMC. The committee decided to plant saplings on plots of lands not under encroachment. In 2016, Sadhana Hojai, the nature loving then Deputy Commissioner of Udalguri passed an order to evict more than 300 families, who had established houses and crops in the encroached area. The evictions were conducted under four phases. In 2016, MK Sarma, DFO, Udalguri conducted the final eviction drive to clear the area for complete plantation. Saplings of sisum, khoir, simul, gamari etc., were planted by nature loving green warriors of Sikaridanga on the plot of 600 hectares on the bank of Dhansiri river. So far more than seven lakh saplings have grown up well to accommodate wild animals, birds and reptiles.
According to Proloy Daimari, president of the JFMC, with the restoration process in progress, several species of wild animals like wild elephant, wild boar, deer, wild dog, bear, black panther, hare, leopard, birds like Bengal florican, ducks, owls, eagles and several species of reptiles have taken shelter in the new manmade forest. Bineswar Daimari, secretary of the JFMC said that ten of the JFMC people including women used to work daily in the JFMC for planting more saplings and to protect the older ones. Anup Narzari and Krishna Kanta Deka, both FR-Grade 1 forest officials have been appointed as joint secretaries of the JFMC to coordinate with the villagers. Finally the encroached lands with virtually no flora and fauna regained its green cover during 2019.