Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

News Excerpt:

The Supreme Court stayed the decision of the Assam Government for “withdrawal” of the notification of the Pobitora as a Wildlife Sanctuary in the Morigaon district of Assam.

More about the news:

  • The Assam Cabinet on March 10 withdrew the notification issued by the State Forest Department in 1998 to declare Pobitora as a wildlife sanctuary.
  • The Supreme Court issued a stay order on the Assam Cabinet's decision to "withdraw" the notification of Pobitora as a Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The Court directed the state government to promptly submit an affidavit detailing the demarcation of the sanctuary's territory and the declaration of its Eco-Sensitive Zone.
  • This decision comes in response to concerns about the potential impact on the sanctuary's status and conservation efforts.

Government’s reasoning for withdrawal of notification:

  • The Cabinet decision of March 10 said the 1998 notification was issued unilaterally by the Forest Department without consulting the Revenue Department or the Chief Minister office.
  • Declaration of the sanctuary was made without settling the rights of the people living in villages in the area, including Thengabhanga, Murkata, and Mayong. 
    • These villagers belonged to the marginalized communities and had been residing in the area even before Independence. 

Supreme Court’s order:

  • The Court asked the state government to settle the claims and rights of the people under Section 26 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, and not to resort to de-notification in the name of “withdrawal.”
    • Court said that such withdrawals cannot be done without the permission of the National Board of Wildlife. 
    • Besides, the Supreme Court has also passed an order against de-reservation of national parks, sanctuaries and forests.
  • The court also directed the state government to remove all encroachers and ensure that all illegal activities in the wildlife sanctuary stop forthwith.
  • The proposal for the de-notification of any sanctuary or national park requires the recommendation of the National Board for Wildlife followed by the Supreme Court’s approval.
  • The Court clarified that its order staying the withdrawal of the 1998 notification would not stand in the way of the State "doing something to protect the rights of the forest dwellers”.

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary was notified by the Assam Forest Department in March 1998.
  • The Sanctuary is known for holding the highest density of One Horned Rhinoceros in the world.
  • Located in the suburbs of Guwahati, it is considered a success story in terms of the conservation and protection of the Rhinos.
  • The Sanctuary consists of the Rajamayong Reserve Forest and Pobitora Reserve Forest. 
    • The Rajamayong hills harbor several species including Leopard, Capped Langur, Porcupine, Pangolin, etc.
  • It is often referred to as ‘Mini Kaziranga’ owing to the similarity of landscape, floral, and faunal distribution.

Book A Free Counseling Session