Arunachal: Elephant Corridor Project Facing Roadblock in Lower Mebo

Guwahati: Concern over the deputy conservator of forests’ (DCF) decision to discontinue an ongoing elephant corridor project in Namsing (Mebo) on the borders of the Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary has been voiced by people of Lower Mebo, notably members of the Kotga Community Reserve Society (KCRS).

The Lower Mebo (Monggu Banggo) area and a portion of the Lower Dibang Valley district are included in the Elephant Corridor Project that the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is putting into action in Namsing village with support from the KCRS.

The initiative promotes the safe passage and mobility of wild elephants in the Mebo area within the Pasighat territorial forest division in addition to financing for the promotion of the local tribes’ cultures. It also contains strategies for generating cash like fishing, raising pigs, selling automated weaving equipment, and making solar plates.

The leaders of the adjoining Paglam hamlet in the Lower Dibang Valley and the villages of Namsing, Mer, and Gadum in East Siang have contributed their about 1,500 hectares of land. With the help of the locals, the society has already carried out community plantations on one-third of the projected 1,500 hectares.

Meanwhile, the WTI office in Noida of Uttar Pradesh has made more than Rs 1 crore available for various activities associated with the elephant corridor project. It has also erected solar-powered shock wire at specified sites in order to prevent wild pachyderms from entering places where humans live.

The ambitious project is now running into a bureaucratic roadblock as a result of the PCCF office contacting the WTI chief and demanding that the current elephant corridor project be stopped.

The DCF (wildlife & biodiversity), situated in Itanagar, reportedly sent a letter to the WTI’s founder and chief executive officer requesting that the elephant corridor project be suspended owing to “misuse of funds and allegations and counter-allegations received from local people of Mebo.”

On November 10 of last year, the DCF requested of the WTI head to postpone the elephant corridor project until conditions on the ground had returned to normal. He had also requested a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding or Memorandum of Agreement that had been signed by the implementing agency and the appropriate authority, as well as a comprehensive report on the elephant corridor project and its execution.

The president of KCRS, Manggu Banggo ZPM Gumin Tayeng, denied that “any unpleasant scenario” existed in the course of implementing the “elephant corridor project,” and added that “a dishonest segment is resorting to a hatred conspiracy to hamper the continuing project, ignoring bigger public interest.”

“According to officials of wildlife and biodiversity, the false allegations forced the WTI chief to halt the initiative for an elephant corridor. Truth be told, there was no problem with law and order around the project’s execution. According to a statement from the ZPM, the abrupt conclusion of the WTI project could have a detrimental effect on the quality of life for the more than 600 low-income households who live in the Monggu Banggo neighbourhood.

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