Case study: Residents of Nyukmadong village said Border Roads Organisation destroyed more than 80% of the 36 sq. km forest without consultations or compensation.
Background: Almost 60 years after becoming collateral damage in one of the fiercest battles between Indian Army soldiers and Chinese invaders, a village in Arunachal Pradesh is fighting a war to protect a sacred forest from a project for preventing a repeat of 1962.
Violation of Tribal Rights and Loss of Flora and Fauna:
- The place is known for a Buddhist-style war memorial on a 1.5-acre plot overlooking the site of a battle on November 18, 1962.
- According to the Kolkata-based South Asian Forum for Environment, the road project is an example of trespassing and ignoring the rights of a local tribal community to the land and the forest ecosystem they are dependent on.
- The WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) declared the patch as a community reserve forest because of its rich biodiversity. The red-listed Indian red panda is found in this area.
- Community representatives said the deforestation (for the road) affected their traditional holy sites, locally called phu.
- It could be the first test case for the new Forest Rule 2022 that seeks to rob indigenous people of their right to forest resources.
- The local stakeholders said much of the damage to the sacred forest cannot be reversed. “Nothing can compensate for the loss to the biodiversity, but the community as landowners should be paid for re-greening the bald patche.
- The other impacted areas are Gyandrabrangsa, Halftangmu, Penpeytang, Chendhuphu, Yangphu and Changphunakphu.
Border Roads Organisation (BRO):
- The BRO is a road construction executive force in India that provides support to and is now a part of the Indian Armed Forces.
- BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
- The BRO consists of Border Roads Wing under the Ministry of Defense and the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF). Officers are selected through the Indian Engineering Services (IES) Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Source: The Hindu