Assam-Nagaland meet on encroachment

Jorhat: The Assam and Nagaland governments have held a district-level meet at Singibeel border outpost in Sivasagar district to discuss encroachment issues in the Geleki Reserve Forest for maintaining peace and harmony in the inter-state boundary areas.

Officials from Assam's Sivasagar and Nagaland's Lungleng districts took part in the meeting that was held on Tuesday.

Deputy commissioner (Sivasagar) J Lahkar said, "We discussed the issue of Naga encroachment in the Geleki forest with officials from Nagaland's Lungleng district. We have asked the officials to take steps for sorting out the issue at the earliest."

"Though the team from Nagaland has requested us to allow cultivation in boundary areas we have refused," he said adding that several amicable decisions were taken up at the meet by both the governments to maintain peace and harmony in the area.

Naga encroachment in the Geleki forest has been on the rise since the last few decades. A group of Naga encroachers, comprising more than 40 armed persons, had taken up an encroachment bid in the forest in December which falls under Nazira sub-division of Sivasagar district.

The group had been cutting down trees in large number in the Singibeel, Mugapara, Borhola and Charaisagia areas under the reserve forest near the police battalion camp in Nazira sub-division. They also destroyed tea gardens along the border and occupied a large part of the forest land.

A senior forest official of the district said, "According to official records, the Geleki Reserve Forest spreads over 6,000 hectare. Out of the total land, the Naga encroachers have already occupied more 4,000 hectare forest lands by various means."

"The encroachment in the reserve forest was started in 1972 and it continued for the last four decades. Recently, the state revenue department and the forest department has jointly started a survey in the reserve forest," he added.

A two-member mediation team, constituted by the Supreme Court, visited the disputed areas along the Assam-Nagaland boundary in Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat district to take stock of the situation in these places on November 17.

On August 20, the apex court had directed the authorities concerned to resolve the decade-old issue through mediation and a two-judge bench of the court ordered constitution of a penal comprising the two mediators.

Earlier, Assam home commissioner Jishnu Boruah also visited the trouble-torn border areas in Sivasagar district on September 9. Boruah, who was accompanied by border director Bhuban Chandra Bora, visited Namtola, Avoyapur forest, Charaideu, Bihubar and the Geleki Reserve Forest and submitted reports to the government.