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Severe erosion threatens Nameri National Park

 

The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, August 9, 2013

The Nameri National Park adjacent to the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border area in Sonitpur district provides a scenic picture to both foreign and domestic tourists. But its existence has been threatened due to the severe erosion caused by the Jia Bharali river.

The Nameri National Park, located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, is one of the richest and most threatened reservoirs of flora and fauna in the world. The Pakhui (Pakke) Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh adjoins the park on its north-eastern side. The park runs from the eastern and south-western banks of the Bor Dikorai river along the inter-State boundary at Sijussa to the left bank of the Jia Bharali river up to the south of the Balipara Reserve Forest.

Senior Forest officials said that the area is drained by the Jia Bharali and its tributaries namely, Diji, Dinai, Doigurung, Nameri, Dikorai, Khari, etc. The park covers an area of 212 square kilometres and is augmented by parts of the Balipara Reserve Forest area which acts as a 64-square-km buffer on the opposite side of the Jia Bharali and 80 square kilometres of the Naduar Reserve Forest. The terrain is uneven with altitudes ranging from 80 metres along the river banks to 225 metres in the central and northern parts.

Godadhar Mili, worker of a Nameri-based NGO, Dusk, stated that the ecological region is a part of the north bank landscape and is an Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot. The area is influenced by tropical monsoons with an average of 3,400 mm of rainfall between May and September.

“Most parts of Nameri are covered by mixed and deciduous forests and over 600 species of plants can be found in the area. Tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests mingle here with the moist deciduous forests, while cane and bamboo and narrow strips of open grassland can be found along the many rivers,” Mili said. The park houses different plant species including Albizzia lucida, Albizzia procera, Amoora wallichii, Artocarpus chaplasha, Baccaurea sapida, Bischofia javanica, Bombax ceiba, Canarium strictum, Castanopsis indica, Cordia dichotoma, Cinnamomum cecicodaphnea, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Dillenia indica, Duabanga grandiflora, Duabanga sonneratoides, Dysoxylum procerum, Endospermum chinense, Lagerstroemia flos-reginae, Litsea sebifera, Mesua ferrea, Morus roxburghii, Premna bengalensis, Pseudostachyum polymorphum, Pterospermum acerifolium, Sapium baccatum, Shorea assamica, Sterculia hamiltonii, Syzygium cumini, Terminalia citrina, Terminalia myriocarpa, Trewia nudiflora and Vatica lanceaefolia.

The Nameri National Park is also extremely rich in faunal resources as it is habitat to different species of birds and animals. Over 30 species of mammals have been recorded here and the park is an important conservation area for tigers and elephants. Bird life is varied and abundant with nearly 400 species. Bird watcher and journalist Pranab Kumar Das said that Nameri’s most important avian residents are the white-winged ducks. A sizeable population is known to inhabit the forest pools, forming an important core of the Indian population of the remaining 150-odd pairs of this highly endangered species.

Nameri was set up as a sanctuary on September 18, 1985 with an area of 137 sq km which was actually a part of the Nadwar Forest Reserve. Later, another 75 square kilometres were added to it, making it an area of 212 sq km on November 15, 1998, thereby establishing it officially as a national park. However, the local residents, basically the tribal people including Misings and Boros living in the vicinity of the Nameri National Park, have expressed annoyance that no measures have been taken to check the erosion caused by the Jia Bharali. They said that if the agencies concerned do not take any proper measures in time, the national park would disappear from here.