Recommendation Letters for ST: By RGCSU

Source Details

Recommending authority: General Secretary and another leader, Rang Frah Government College Students Union (RGCSU), Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh.

Dated: 5 December 2000

Addressed to: “To whom it may concern”

Content for Recommending: A quote

the Yobin/Lisu Tribe of Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh are one among the indigenous tribes residing in Vijoynagar Circle…“.

My Comment

The Student Union was very clear who we are. And we are glad they vouched for us.

Effort to relocate Lisus from Namdapha Tiger Reserve–Comment

This post links to Behind the Scenes for the Relocation Efforts in 2011 and Yobin/Lisu and Namdapha: news reviews of Sep and Oct 2011.

Comments

The news coverage of a meeting on 31 March 2010, made the way for ten of our representatives to write a memorandum, without getting consensus from our general public. Few observations:

  • Reading the news now, it seems the dignitaries like the Parliamentary Secretary, PCCF and others scared our people. The Parliamentary Secretary actually threatened our people.
  • Whoever has reported this news was very biased person. The reporter talked about the dates when the Namdapha National Park was declared, but did not mention a word that Lisu/Yobin were living at Nibodi (52 Miles) prior to 1978 and the village was evicted on 22 February 1979, which was nine months before the actual deadline (12 November 1979) set by the Circle Officer.

News Report at AP Times

Source: Effort to relocate Lisus from Namdapha Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Times, 31 March 2010)

ITANAGAR, Mar 31: Efforts to relocate the Lisus from Namdapha National Park (Tiger Project), Miao is on. The Lisus comprising of 84 families are reported to have encroached in the Core/Critical Wild Life habitat inside Namdapha Tiger Reserve at 5 locations.

On Mar 30, a meeting on Lisu relocation and rehabilitation from Namdapha National Park was convened at Miao which was attended by Parliamentary Secretary (Environment & Forests) Kumar Waii. He said that there is immense pressure from the centre to find an early solution to the rehabilitation of Lisu settlers from Namdapha.

He said that the proposal by Lisu leaders to recognize their settlements inside the Tiger Project by de-reserving the area is not feasible and urged them to accept the compensation package and move out from the Park.  He categorically stated that in near future if the Govt. decides to evict the settlers as they inhabit the critical wildlife habitat, it will be a great loss.

The Lisus have sought some time to arrive at an amicable solution.

Local Kamlung Mossang, ZPM Chairperson Junpo Jugli, PCCF (WL & BD) & Chief Wildlife Warden J.L.Singh along with officials from Wildlife and Local administration attended the meeting.

Namdapha was originally a Reserved Forest and was declared as Wildlife Sanctuary in 1972 under Assam Forest Regulation. It was declared a National Park in 1983. In the same year, it was declared a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger Scheme of the Government of India. An area of 177.425 sq. km. of Reserved Forest was added to the Tiger Reserve in 1986.  Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and is recognized as one of the richest areas in biodiversity in India.

There are 41 tiger reserves in India which includes Namdapha and Pakhui in Arunachal, governed by Project Tiger. The landmark report, Status of the Tigers, Co-predators, and Prey in India, published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, estimates only 1411 adult tigers in existence in India including the uncensused tigers in the Sundarbans.

Behind the Scenes for the Relocation Efforts in 2011

 

Background

The news “The Lisus say no to relocation from Namdapha National Park” became a hot topic. Much correspondence happened. More about this is given in detail Yobin/Lisu and Namdapha: news reviews of Sep and Oct 2011.

Soon after those days, I had to rush home to attend my mom who was brutally attacked by our own buffalo. While in the village I got hold of a very important document. That provided further insight why the ADC Miao took so much interest to relocate and why he was very upset when our community said no to the relocation proposal.

The Memorandum

Ten representatives (GBs of Josadi, Sichudi, Musathi and Nibodi, Panchayat leaders and others) submitted a memorandum to The Parliamentary Secretary (Environment and Forest, Govt of AP), dated April 07, 2010. The seven-page document highlighted the problems our people face, the history. It finally concluded: find a suitable place for relocation of 84 families or recognize the existing settlements.

The wildlife and administration were, no doubt, very keen to respond to this proposal. So the Parliamentary Secretary noted on the memorandum “Please put up on priority” dated May 5, 2010. Very prompt! The reason: They were looking for a way to deviate from our community stand, which is either push back the Namdapha National Park’s boundary or resettle the ex-servicemen from Vijoynagar. To both, they became silent and no response.

In addition, the memorandum addressed as if the land shortage is only for those 84 families. It is not – it is the whole community issue. Why not when we are crunched within a distance of seven km? A survey by the Department of Environment and Forest in 2004 found the fact of land shortage among the Lisu community.

Where were the ten Representatives?

When the ADC Miao called the meeting on September 19, 2010, a land was already identified at 10th Mile, to which we totally rejected.

In that meeting, the ten people who signed and submitted the memorandum were no where. The two primary leaders were in the villages! Basically they ran away.

So then the patch work had to be done by someone else. At that time, several of our leaders at Miao under the leadership of Phusa responded efficiently.

Our society has interesting people. They create problems and then disappear.

Why?

I wonder why those ten representatives proposed the options either give good land or recognize the villages to such high officials. Is there ego problem – do they want to project their name in some way?

Is it possible that some people (someone) is brainwashing, giving bad ideas so that we will meddle our own mess?

Time will tell. I will look out for that.

Influencers on Lisu Society: Samchom Ngemu

Political Career

If you look at the list of AAPSU leaders in the 1970s, you will find his name. He had been a leader since his student days.

He came to the political picture in 1978 when he challenged the reigning, Jungpum Jugli (PPA Party) as an Independent candidate. Though he lost that battle, but to rise again in 1980 when he defeat the PPA candidate, Mr Nongtu Lungphi. By then he joined Indian National Congress (INC) and continued till 2004 when he was denied its party ticket.

The following election in 1984, he lost to a woman contestant, Mrs Kamoli Mossang, by a margin of four percentage. Till this election, the constituency came under “25 Noadihing Nampong Assembly Constituency”.

After this election, it seems there was bifurcation of the constituency. He contested for the current constituency “5 – (ST) Miao Assembly Constituency” and for the next three consecutive terms (in 1990, 1995 and 1999) he captured that position, defeating the two opponents, KK Muklom and the rising Kamlung Mossang.

Interestingly in 2004 when he was denied the INC party ticket, he did not contest, rather backed KK Muklom who lost. He challenged Kamlung Mossang the latest in 2009 when he lost perhaps once for all.

During his reign, he took up several roles as Cabinet Minister. The last portfolio he held was PHED Minister.

His Contribution for Lisu

In the annals our history, his name would remain in bold letters as one who helped us restore our Indian Citizenship in 1994. He spent much energy for us. A High Power Committee was constituted on our behalf. He mediated with the then Chief Minister to help us. This particular contribution changed our history forever. We can never thank him enough.

The Panchayati Raj system was restored. We had our first ASMs in 2004 with Yomadwe and Ngwalosay.

During his tenure, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh sent a list of 20 Scheduled Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh to the Government of India in 2000. The same was included in the Lok Sabha debates in Dec 2002.

Vijoynagar Circle was proposed as a border block as early as 1994.

I am also very impressed with him for working through our society leadership, YTWC. From prior to our citizenship and until the last election, he consistently respected our community body. In that process, he updated any development he has undertaken accordingly.

I wish

When the Indian Citizenship was declared, the matter on our Scheduled Tribe status was silent. Some of us went to the Deputy Commissioner to apply for ST certificate. The officer had to clarify his higher authority about that. Only then we realized that privilege was withheld from us.

I wish our ST was declared along with the Indian Citizenship, because our Indian Citizenship and ST were not withdrawn in stages. It should then be restored together at once.

References

25 Noadihing Nampong Assembly Constituency (Election Commission of India, 1978-1984).

50 (ST) Miao Assembly Constituency (Election Commission of India, 1990 – 2004).

List of contesting Candidates in Assembly Election 2009 from Changlang District (Changlang.nic.in).

Arunachal: 15 Cong heavyweights denied tickets (NE News, Sep 15, 2004).

Namdapha Management Plan: Proposal for Buffer Zone

 

Comments

This notification dated on 20 August 2009 by Field Director of NNP, stated a series of meetings that took place. Several villages in Miao and Nampong areas unanimously agreed for the NNP boundary. We did not agree. How can we agree? See the facts:

  • We lived in the park prior to its declaration. No other tribes around lived that way.
  • Our shortage of land is too acute. The authorities took the land upto to 80th Mile, which physical 7 miles along the road from Shidi. The terrain is fully hills; no way we’ll have cultivation. Those in Miao and Nampong have at least plain lands and have sufficient.

Buffer Zone Notification Memo

SOURCE: Management Plan: Namdapha National Park (A research project undertaken by Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of India and Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Centre-WWF India). URL: http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Namdapha%20Management%20Plan-08022012.pdf (accessed: 3 July 2013). Page 52.

04 Namdapha Buffer Zone

Namdapha Management Plan: Threats to Namdapha National Park

 

Few thoughts as I read this section:

  • “There are two Lisu (originally belong to Myanmar) settlements in the core zone of the park, damaging the virgin forest.” My problem is with the parenthesis. Why would they want to say that? I will have bigger problem if they imply that those two villages [Nibodi and Ngwazakha] are Burmese citizens.
  • “Hunting, illegal fishing and trapping of wild fauna like tiger, barking deer, leaf deer, sambhar, wild boar, bear, wildcat and a variety of birds by local inhabitants (Lisu, Chakma and Mishmi)”. Yes possible. But why keep blaming when authorities do nothing? Wildlife authorities normally do not come beyond Deban. Moreover, they do not have a forest camp in Shidi anymore. They had in the 1980s.
  • “Thus, it is evident that the buffer-zone concept failed with respect to Namdapha National Park”. Yes it is good. How would a tribe survive within 6 to 7 km – between 80 Miles to Chidudi (Ramnagar)?

Read more about this below and whole report if you like, given in the link.

 

Threats to Namdapha National Park

SOURCE: Management Plan: Namdapha National Park (A research project undertaken by Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of India and Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Centre-WWF India). URL: http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Namdapha%20Management%20Plan-08022012.pdf (accessed: 3 July 2013). Page 30 – 32.

The existing threats to the National Park can be briefly summarised as follows:

(i) Human influx – In recent years, human migration caused by population increase has posed increasing threats to the biodiversity of forest zones all over the world (McCool and Kruger, 2003). Although Namdapha is in a remote corner of the country, it could not escape from human interference (Arunachalam, et al., 2003). As has been mentioned earlier several ethnic human communities have been living in and around the park and are fully dependant on the resources of the national park for their day to day life. Besides the side-line settlements mentioned above, there are two unauthorized settlements in the core zone with 43 households and a population of 280 (Arunachalam et al., 2004).
The Chakmas, originally belong to the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, have settled down in different parts of the State as refugees (mainly in Changlang and Lohit districts) during 1964-65 (SAHRDC, 2001). Prior to the declaration of Namdapha as a national park and tiger reserve, the Chakmas were living in Haldibari, Zero camp and Farmbase (present buffer zone). After declaration as a national park in 1983, they were resettled outside the park boundary in the adjacent Anchal reserve forests. However they continue to use the park resources for their livelihood. Similarly there are other migrant communities dependent upon the forest resources. There are two Lisu (originally belong to Myanmar) settlements in the core zone of the park, damaging the virgin forest. About 170 ha of forest land (in the core zone) has already been cleared within the last few years for agriculture (excluding jhum) and settlement. Further, there is illegal felling of trees and collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) (Arunachalam et al., 2004).

(ii) Extraction of forest products – People depend on the park for timber, bamboo, roofing materials, medicinal plants and other NTFPs (Adhikari and Arunachalam, 2003; Sarmah et al., 2003; Sarmah et al., 2004). Happy Valley, Haldibari and M.V. road side areas (in the buffer zone) have been identified as extraction zones in the park. It is estimated that about 975 tonnes of bamboos and posts, and 45.5 tonnes of wild vegetables and medicinal plants are harvested annually in the villages in and around the national park. This can be attributed to demographic pressure and easy accessibility to the forest as well as to the local market demand. Fuel-wood is the major source of energy in these areas, as no alternative energy sources like electricity and cooking gas are available. The consumption of firewood is higher during winter in comparison to summer for processing of agricultural products for their value-addition. Also, more firewood is required for warmth during winter season. Illegal felling and trafficking of trees have been noticed several times inside the park area although Supreme Court banned such activities in the North-eastern states since December 1996 (Arunachalam et al., 2004). Extraction of these forest resources in such unsustainable manner, will ultimately affect the overall biodiversity of the park, in the long run

(iii) Hunting and poaching – Hunting, illegal fishing and trapping of wild fauna like tiger, barking deer, leaf deer, sambhar, wild boar, bear, wildcat and a variety of birds by local inhabitants (Lisu, Chakma and Mishmi) for bush meat and hide, is a severe concern for the management of Namdapha (Arunachalam et al., 2004). Habitat destruction poses further threat to wildlife (Lau and Shi, 2000).Although the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 was extended to Arunachal Pradesh in May 1973, and prohibits picking, poaching and hunting of wild animals and plants, its enforcement is not to be of much use in this area (Arunachalam et al., 2004). The great Indian hornbill (Buceros bicornis), the State bird of Arunachal Pradesh, has played an important role in the traditional lifestyle and dressing habits of many tribes in the state. The tribal people use the beak of the bird as a headgear to be worn as a traditional knot on the forehead. Thus, the world’s most colourful bird is heading towards extinction in the north-eastern states of India. Moreover, there are ample game hunters around Namdapha who frequently hunt birds for fun and food. The Apatani tribe residing in higher elevations (Ziro) of Arunachal Pradesh now use artificial beaks of the hornbill, as reiterated by the WWF-India (World Wide Fund for Nature – India) in the state (Arunachalam et al., 2004).

(iv) Buffer zone – The buffer zone concept of Namdapha nature reserve is somewhat different from the IUCN (International Union of Conservation) concept. The buffer area (177 sq km) is confined only to the north-west corner of the park. This area had human settlements earlier (Haldibari, Farmbase and Zero camp) and was later added to the park in 1986. Currently, in the buffer zone (demarcated by forest authorities), there is no human settlement, but the resettled communities frequently visit the zone for various forest produces. The south-eastern periphery of the park was earlier considered as a core area and human interference was supposed to be negligible there. However, decadal increase of human population in the fringes of this reserve has compelled people to encroach the park area. Further, immigration from neighbouring Myanmar is also adding to demographic pressure over the natural resources in the park. Consequently this is disturbing the pristine forest vegetation and the resident wild fauna in the protected area. Thus, it is evident that the buffer-zone concept failed with respect to Namdapha National Park (Arunachalam et al., 2004).

Namdapha Management Plan: Demography

Several indigenous tribes and other communities reside in and around the park such as the Lisu, Miju Mishmi, Lama and Chakma communities (Deb and Sundriyal, 2007; Datta et al., 2008). The Chakma and Miju Mishmi enter the park for fuel-wood, nontimber forest produce collection (Arunachalam et al., 2004), hunting and fishing. While their impact is restricted to the western portion of the park, it is members of the Lisu tribe that reside along the eastern fringe of the park who access the interior and remote areas. A population of 3988 (Census of India, 2001) reside beyond the south-eastern park boundary in four villages of the Lisu tribe and nine villages of the Nepali community. Although some Lisu households existed within the park earlier, more Lisu families have migrated into the park since 1997, as their populations have grown and owing to a serious decline in cultivable land due to erosion by the river Noa-Dihing. Currently 65 such families reside in the park and practice settled rice cultivation in the river valley (Datta et al., 2008).

MY COMMENTS:

  • Why are only Lisu, Miju Mishmi, Lama and Chakma mentioned as living around the Park? What about other tribes like Singpho and Tangsa? It is even strange that Lama is even listed. They don’t come close; they live within fixed boundary away from the park.
  • Report rightly mentioned Lisu lived in the park earlier. It should be rather stated “before the park was declared”. And it was not more people have migrated but the sons and daughters of those who lived there in the 70s have increased.
  • Good counting of 65 families within the park. I wouldn’t have known the exact figures if not of this research and Aparajita’s.

SOURCE: Management Plan: Namdapha National Park (A research project undertaken by Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of India and Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Centre-WWF India). URL: http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Namdapha%20Management%20Plan-08022012.pdf (accessed: 3 July 2013). Page 22-23.

Strategies of Namdapha People

The Expert Committee reported to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) with the following recommendations:

  • To recruit our people as protection force.
  • Forest camps in every 10 km, posted by Lisu. Potentially more from Nibodi.
  • Forest Department to change the habit of blaming the Lisu.

Brilliant suggestions. If these are implemented we will have to be careful. They have these provisions coming up but there is no solution for our settlement.

====================================================================================

Read below the full report:  Special force pill for Namdapha – Evaluation experts suggest involving Lisus to prevent poaching, by Roopak Goswami (The Telegraph, 6 December 2010, accessed on 27 June 2013).

 

Namdapha tiger reserve. Telegraph picture

Guwahati, Dec. 5: A rapid field evaluation on Namdapha tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, conducted by experts, has suggested to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) the need to have a separate protection force by members of the Lisu tribe, who have excellent knowledge of the terrain to help in detection of poachers from Myanmar.

The conservation authority has categorised Namdapha as a poor tiger reserve and had asked experts to carry out a rapid appraisal.

The expert committee report, which was recently submitted to NTCA, said there could even be an agreement with the Lisu community that they would take an active role in preventing hunting and other disturbances.

“There can be forest camps every 10km with regular staff posted along with members of the Lisu community,” the report said.

The team opined that Namdapha tiger reserve is of immense value from biodiversity point of view as it also shelters tiger and other key animals. Illegal hunting is a serious threat to wildlife in the park, and is prevalent among all tribal groups.

The report said poaching was likely to be among the primary factors resulting in the current decline in Namdapha, which is located along the international border with Myanmar and close to hotspots of trade in animal body parts.

“In Myanmar, there is a documented decline of tigers because of hunting for trade. Hunting of tigers is a significant threat to the persistence or recovery of tigers and other large carnivores in Namdapha,” it said.

There are 84 families staying in eight villages in the core area of the tiger reserve. It says contingency staff for protection squad should be hired from local communities, rules on educational qualifications should be relaxed as this often hampers the selection of the right people for forest patrolling duties. The best people for this work are often uneducated, but skilled in the jungle.

Not only in regard to recruiting local people, the committee has also called for a change in attitude of the forest department as there has been a long history of blaming the Lisu with poor efforts at understanding their problems or dialogue.

The committee feels this mindset needs to change to move forward positively to solve the park’s problems.

The biggest problem is in relocation of Lisus outside the park as the leaders of the community have indicated that they were not willing to settle for the Rs 10 lakh compensation and would want adequate land to be notified and demarcated for them in lieu of the occupied land in the park.

Settlements inside the park came up since 1997-98.

“All these problems have also been exacerbated by the remoteness of the area with no road connection, poor communication and infrastructure, low staff strength and motivation, poor official interest in the park with very limited action/management on ground. These also results in further deterioration of morale and functioning of the lower field staff,” the report said.

The ungoverned territories

Source: By Patricia Mukhim (The Statesman, 6 February 2011, accessed 11 February 2011). 

ONE of the blessings of journalism involves forsaking the beaten track for the road less travelled. On one such trip to the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh, adjacent to Namdapha National Park in Changlang district, I met a group of people who called themselves the Lisu and occupy that fringe which is India’s border with Myanmar. The Lisus claim they live on their own land, which comes under the Vijaynagar area of Changlang district since the early 19th century. But they have virtually lived like refugees, uncared for and with no administration. They are one of 56 ethnic groups officially recognised by China. In Myanmar, the Lisus are known as one of the seven Kachin minority groups and a small number of them also live in Thailand. The Lisus call themselves the Yobin tribe in Arunachal Pradesh.

There is an Army base camp at Gandhigram under Vijaynagar circle which, like all frontiers of Arunachal Pradesh, is accessible only by helicopter. The Lisus get their essential food items all the way from Miao, 157 km away. They have to trudge through the Namdapha forests for four days, camping at  night before reaching there. The Border Roads Organisation has made a grand plan for connecting Vijaynagar to Miao but work is yet to be completed. Interestingly, the Lisus of Arunachal Pradesh are deprived of their Scheduled Tribe status because they were equated with the Chakma migrants of Bangladesh who were allowed to settle there by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964.

Following the anti-Chakma movement in Arunachal Pradesh, the Lisus unwittingly were tagged with the Chakmas and lost their ST status. Arunachal Pradesh is geographically very vast. There are parts so remote that administration is simply not possible because there are no roads. Vijaynagar is one such place. In fact, many academicians are confused about the exact status of the Lisu people. In September last year, a seminar to discuss the “confusing” status of the Lisus of Arunachal Pradesh and attempt to give them a voice was held under the aegis of the Sokjar and Gamde Gamlin Foundation. Lisu representative Phusa Yobin, president of the Yobin Tribe Welfare Committee, claimed his tribe had an historical attachment with Arunachal Pradesh since the North East Frontier Agency days. He questioned the “confusing” stand of the state as well as the Centre’s not according them their correct status. Perhaps it is their small number that makes the Lisus voiceless. After all, democracy is about how much noise a particular group can make. The total Lisu strength in Arunachal Pradesh at present is a mere 1,293, too small to make an impact and not enough to make sense as an electorate. Surprisingly, their literacy rate is nearly 72 per cent and those who are educated teach their illiterate brethren Lisu, Hindi and English. There is a middle-English school at Vijaynagar where the young are taught.

The group of Lisu men and women I met at Miao spoke impeccable English and their attire was regal despite the four-day journey. In fact the women were costumed akin to Mongolian attire. A couple of young Lisu men study at the North Eastern Hill University in Shillong.

Let’s now focus on Arunachal Pradesh’s East Kameng district. Here slavery or bonded labour is still prevalent. There are, according to studies, about 3,500 slaves working under various masters. The Nishi and Miji tribes of the state actually keep slaves to this day. A botanist surveying medicinal plants in the verdant forests of eastern Arunachal came across this peculiar situation. He found a slave girl murdered by her master for not performing a certain task. Her body was dumped in the nearby forest. There is no law but that of the jungle. In 21st century India it is amazing that such stories should continue to be part of our narrative.

But this is also the reality of India where the peripheries continue to bleed because of neglect and a complete vacuum of governance. A few studies have also confirmed that slavery/bonded labour is alive and kicking in Arunachal Pradesh and that the slaves have no identity, no citizenship and no rights.

Other stories emanating from this easternmost frontier of India are equally interesting. They beg the question whether Arunachal Pradesh, despite the pro-India rhetoric adopted by its affluent and educated class, is really an integral part of this country. If so, can the Indian Army explain why in some of the extremities of the state the Chinese airdrop blankets and food items to people living there on a regular basis? According to those villagers, even bad weather does not deter the choppers from doing their rounds. For these scattered villages, unreachable by any government programme and too far away from civilisation, the airdropped food and materials help them tide over harsh winters. There is, in fact, a certain bonhomie between the people there with the Chinese and they feel much closer to their neighbours on the eastern frontiers than to Itanagar.

Such are the vagaries of life. Boundaries and borders may be the topic of high diplomacy but for the ordinary mortal survival comes from knowing who one’s friends are and whom one can depend on when the going gets tough. It is also no surprise why the Naga militants share a fraternal bond with the Chinese and have depended on them for all their strategic needs. There is something about the hill tribes that highly civilised, highly feudal and socially stratified Indian society — ruled by a set of people who are dyed in Chanakyan philosophy — will never comprehend. Not that they have ever tried to. The metaphor about the man who will never know what it takes to walk in someone else’s moccasins rings true all the time.
Does India care that slavery in one form or the other is still alive and kicking in many of its states? Does the current governance model take care of the large swathes of remote North-east India? Do the rulers in Delhi know what it is like to be outside of the public distribution system and to have to depend on a friendly neighbour for those supplies? The Indian bureaucracy functions like an unthinking machine gone rusty through overuse; a machine that churns out junk most of the time.

The politician, no matter which state he represents, is a picture of venality. Whether at the Centre or in the states, they all share the common traits of corruption and nepotism. But these politicians are patronised by a Centre that seems to have made it an agenda to puff up a tiny tribal elite that will carry out its bidding. This tribal elite is pursuing its wealth-pilfering agenda to the hilt and sowing the seeds for future revolutions.

It, therefore, sounds a bit incongruous when people in Delhi speak of governance deficit. You can be governance deficit only if you have experienced some kind of governance. Not when you do not even know what governance is and have had to survive on your wits.

The writer is editor, The Shillong Times, and can be contacted at patricia17@rediffmail.com.

 

Our Stand on the Traditional Land

Aparajita Datta captured it well (Making headway in Down To Earth, April 15, 2006. Page 44):

“The Lisu had two suggestions  to make: either push back the park’s boundary or resettle Nepalis inhabiting  the area (Nepali families are economically better off, with better jobs and landholdings three times bigger than that of the Lisu); and give them more agricultural land in Vijaynagar circle. They also made it clear that they would not settle in areas near Miao, the traditional territory of other tribes”

PROBLEMS

The Yobin society had made our stand clear: either push back the Namdapha or resettle the settlers. This has problems both sides.

If the Park’s boundary is pushed back to 40th Mile, half of the Namdapha Wildlife Sanctuary will be lost. The authorities will hesitate alot or never want to do that. For them animals and trees have sometimes more value than human.

The option to resettle the settlers is difficult for the administration, not for wildlife people because they reside outside the Namdapha area. It would be even touch on  ex-servicemen to leave where they have been living for the last five decades. But if the administration  really want to do this action to save the Park, they just have to deny the renewal of the land lease, which is renewed every 30 years.

If either of the options are not provided as solution, it is very difficult for our community to servive. We have been crunched between 80 Mile to Angichidu (Ramnagar), about 12 km. Only Shidi has plain land. How would we survive as more than 90% of our people depend on land produce?

RESPONSES WE RECEIVED

In 2011, the Namdapha authorities and administration chaired by ADC, wanted to resettle us at 10 Mile. They want to see a settlement like Cheophelling Tibetan Settlement at Miao, where they cannot move beyond the boundary. How can we agree to such non-sense proposal?

Another observation, in the proposal, they gave solution only those currently living within the Namdapha Park. The problem is not just for them. It is for the whole tribe.

I wonder what other strategies our administration and the Namdapha authorities will have in mind. Whatever the proposal, none of them will be in our favour. They have never been thinking for our welfare. Their only mindset: How can Lisu/Yobin be thrown our of the Namdapha National Park.