Community House at Dawodi

Tsozuhi at Dawodi HQ

This wooden house looks very simple and now worn out of regular use but it was a very important center in the 1980s.

The former ZPM of Vijoynagar Shri Yoafu Yobin told me that roofing materials were donated by the former CM of AP Shri. PK Thungon when visited there. I think he gave quality material. It stands tough even today.

The wooden parts were donated and constructed by the villagers of the Circle. This was initiated when Shri Tsifuja Yobin was GB of Shidi and Shri Yesa Yobin was Assistant GB between 1983 and 1984.

The Yobin villagers called it Tsozuhi (Community house) and others called it Aram Ghar (Rest House).

The house had very important function. When villagers from Shidi visited Circle HQ they halt the night there. Unlike today the Vijoynagar HQ was busy and all essential offices were functional. Sick ones stayed there as the medical was just a plot away.

Miao-Vijoynagar road to be built in 3 years: BRO

I find this article by Pradeep Kumar very informative on the MV Road, except for two factual errors.

  • The first, “another expedition led by major Sumeer Singh in February 1961 which were unsuccessful. The second team could reach Gandhigram, 22-km short of Vijoynagar.” Expedition by Major Sumeer Singh was not unsuccessful. In fact, it he who contacted our villagers for the first time on 7th May 1961 which happened to be a Sunday.
  • The second, “The settlement of retired AR personnel there had began from 07.05.1961… “. The settlement started from 1967 and stopped by the state government in 1971. This 07.05.1961 was the date when the expedition team first arrived in Gandhigram village.

Meanwhile there is a goodnews about the Vijoynagar’s Advanced Landing Ground that was made operational on 18 Sep 2019 after a gap of 3 years. See report in AP Times (20 Sep 2019), entitled “Vijoynagar ALG reopens after 3 years”. The CM Pema Khandu shared the landing of an AN-32 plane in Vijoynagar.

Source:

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The road that was in 1972

The road built in 1972 was motorable till 1980 and then state governor KAA Raja had reached Vijoynagar with a fleet of 12 jeeps, but the first and the last vehicles seen there. Changlang DC Dr. S. B. Deepak Kumar had walked through this road in December 2009 and strongly recommended its construction. Governor Gen (Retd) J. J. Singh during his visit to Miao on 07.08.10 had directed the PWD to start construction of road work to complete it by December 2011 and had reopened in March 2011 after 36 years.

Eight company vehicles, consisting of bulldozers & trucks had arrived at Shidi on 10.01.12 and walked for four days to reach Miao.  The BRO on 01.02.11 had joined the bid for survey of 213-km Nampong-Vijoynagar road.

Vijoynagar in nature’s lap

The 7th Assam Rifles had launched expedition to demarcate border of India and Myanmar from Miao after independence in June 1960 and another expedition led by major Sumeer Singh in February 1961 which were unsuccessful. The second team could reach Gandhigram, 22-km short of Vijoynagar. However, 3rd expedition (Srijit-II) led by Major General AS Gaurya had begun in October 1961 and reached Chankan Pass and later Vijoynagar on 27.11.61 to hoist Indian tri-colour and named the place after his son. Since then the AR has been guarding the frontier. Land-locked Vijoynagar, called Daudi by local residents Lisu (Yobin), spread across 8,000 sqkm, is the remotest inhabited land of India.

By Pradeep Kumar

NAHARLAGUN, Sept 13: An all weather 157-km Miao-Vijoynagar strategic road in Changlang district would be completed in three years once fund is sanctioned after submission of detailed project report (DPR), a top ranking BRO engineer told this daily on Thursday.

Vijonagar, located along Indo-China-Myanmar tri-junction, is only remotest circle headquarters of Arunachal Pradesh without road link, though its advanced landing ground (ALG) was upgraded and inaugurated by former governor Gen (Retd) J J Singh on 18.11.11. Its elected representative Kamlung Mosang (present UD Minister) has been making all out efforts while Governor Brig. (Retd) B.D. Mishra has put his all weight behind the road.

The governor, who had conducted an aerial survey of the road on September one last, had also raised it in his address to NEC, saying “lack of robust land, air, internet and mobile network connectivity are biggest problem of the state which derails developmental needs and security parameters.”

The reconnaissance of the road begun by two teams on Thursday, as assured by BRO additional director general (East) P.K.H. Singh to the governor and Chief Minister Pema Khandu during a review meeting at Guwahati on September 9 last, the source said, adding one team was airdropped on the higher reaches by an IAF helicopter.

The road survey is being conducted by expert BRO engineers and state’s senior RWD engineers to decide the technology to be adopted.

Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, while reviewing work progress of the road in a meeting with RWD Minister Honchun Ngandam and RWD CE-cum-PMGSY CEO D Nyodu on 23.07.19, had directed to expedite the road works.

Pointing out peculiar soil conditions and shortfall in sanctioned DPR for which new alignment has to be made, Ngandam had said and sought Rs 39 crore additional fund to which the DyCM had nodded. Harsh topography, repeated cloud bursts and frequent rainfall, and peculiar soil conditions, forest regulations, slope stabilization of hillside were challenges, Nyodu had told.

It may be recalled that while launching two-month-long Arunachal Rising campaign on 07.12.18, the CM had announced to build the raid on priority. Huge horticulture-agriculture potentials of Vijoynagar could not be tapped for lack of proper surface and air communication, he had said. Tough former chief minister, late Dorjee Khandu had approved its survey and DPR under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana but affected and delayed due to improper work allocation, he had added.

The settlement of retired AR personnel there had began from 07.05.1961 for which their population is almost 50% of the total while 45% civilians are mainly Lisu and rest officials on duty.. Besides SIB, Assam Rifles camp and state police, there are Govt primary schools and one secondary school to cater to needs of students of 16 villages. This place was little known to outside world prior to 1961 and the ALG was developed during 1962.

The inhabitants for want of road connectivity totally depend on supply of essential items by An-32 aircrafts which fly either from Dibrugarh and Miao but are very irregular with limited haulage capacity. That is why salt and sugar are sold at minimum Rs 200 per kg while a bag of cement costs about Rs 7,000.

With Assam Rifles having limited medical facilities, patients face toughest challenge in emergency medical cases to go out for treatment. Miao, the nearest town 157-km away, takes about 6-days walk by foot march or less on elephant.

 

Miao Vijoynagar Road: Latest Push 6 Years After Grand Funding

The government’s will to build MV Road is beginning to feel among the people. The last two weeks or so, there are a series of high level meetings in the Capital. It all started with the announcement that the Governor will visit on 15 July 2019. That did not happened.

Below is a series of events, with chronology from bottom up.

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Arunachal Guv calls for timely completion of Miao-Vijyanagar road

Maximum work must be done during the rain-free months from November to February and the road must be made functional, the governor told state minister Kamlung Mossang who met him at the Raj Bhavan to brief him on the progress of the work.

The governor said the work must be completed within a timeframe for the benefit of the people living there. (North East Today, 17 Nov 2020).

SBL to recommend clearance for Miao-Vijaynagar road, accepts proposal to declare Kaiser-i-Hind state butterfly

11 Jan 2020 (AP Times)

The 22nd State Board for Wildlife (SBL) that met on Friday evening under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Pema Khandu resolved to recommend wildlife clearance for the much-awaited Miao-Vijaynagar road in Changlang district, which passes through the famed Namdapha Tiger Reserve.

The board accepted the proposal to realign the road at two stretches – which would help reduce the length of the road considerably – owing to “unfeasibility of maintenance along the said two stretches.”

Gov briefs min on Miao-Vijoynagar road

November 25, 2019 (AP Times)

NEW DELHI, Nov 24: Arunachal Governor BD Mishra met union Environment, Forest & Climate Change Minister, Prakash Javadekar, on the sideline of the 50th Conference of Governors here on Sunday and briefed the minister on the restoration of the Miao-Vijoynagar road, in Changlang district, and its handing over to the BRO for maintenance.

Holding discussions related to forests in Arunachal, the governor said that “environmental impact assessment requires a review as some important projects, particularly roads, are delayed due to guidelines for environmental protection and conservation goals.”

GoAP aims to achieve most of developmental targets by 2024: Gov

8 Jan 2020 (AP Times)

The governor stressed on the strategic importance of the border areas and the need look into the requirements of those living in such areas. He informed that the government is working on the 157-km strategic Miao-Vijaynagar road project in Changlang district, in association with the Border Roads Organisation.

Governor, CM review projects

20 Nov 2019 (AP Times)

The Governor “Besides stressing on expediting the road projects, he emphasized the need to preserve the tiger reserves in Namdapha forest in Changlang district.”

Taking Road Connectivity to the last person: CM

17 October 2019, also appeared in AP Times titled “Gov, CM chair meeting to review Miao-Vijoynagar road project”.

MV Road - 18 Oct 2019

CM’s Twitter Message

8 Sep 2019 (Ref)

MV road - 9 sep 2019

This matter appeared in Assam Sentinel, 11 Sep 2019 entitled “BRO to Begin Inspection of Miao-Vijoynagar Road in Changlang District”. It seems that BRO is given additional responsibility such as “inspections” whatever that may involve. And I heard from many people that this survey team went out to survey on the 12 Sep as promised.

Joint Survey?

While appreciating Governor and CM’s effort I failed to understand why they want to conduct a joint survey of BRO and RWD.

Pema

State’s agenda for NEC plenary session discussed

4 Sep 2019 (AP Times)

Sharing the observations he made during his recent visit to Vijoynagar, Miao, Jairampur, Nampong and Pangsau Pass in Changlang district with the chief minister, the governor reiterated the need to expedite the construction of the Miao-Vijoynagar road and inauguration of trade and commerce activities at the Indo-Myanmar haats in Pangsau Pass.

Miao-Vijoynagar road to be constructed by all means: Governor

VIJOYNAGAR, Aug 30:Governor BD Mishra has assured the people of Vijoynagar circle in Changlang district that the Miao-Vijoynagar road “will be constructed by all means.”

Governor discusses on strategic road with RWD minister

22 August 2019 (AP Times)

ITANAGAR, Aug 21: Rural Works Department Minister Honchun Ngandam called on Governor BD Mishra at the Raj Bhavan here on Wednesday and apprised him regarding the much-needed construction of the road from Miao to Vijoynagar in Changlang district.
They discussed the national importance of the road and also the road importance for the people located in the far-flung areas on the international border of India and Myanmar and gave emphasis on speedy construction of the Miao-Vijoynagar road as per the stipulated specifications and its early completion, preferably by the end of the current financial year.

They noted that with the construction of this road there will also be substantial care and improvement of flora and fauna in the Namdapha National Park, besides effective surveillance and control on poaching activity, if any, in the area.

They also opined that the safe animal passages and corridors for the free movement of animals within the park should be fully protected.

Governor, CM emphasize need for proper road network

14 August 2019 (AP Times)

… The governor commended the CM for according priority to development and public welfare, and shared details of his meetings with ministers and officers of the rural works, the environment & forests and the planning departments, besides the BSNL, regarding the strategic Miao-Vijoynagar road. …

DoNER Sanctions

7 August 2019

… the ministry has also sanctioned Rs. 6.23 Cr for FDR and strengthening of pavement surface, bridges and other works at Miao to Vijaynagar Road in Changlang District… Read more.

Governor holds high-level meet on Miao-Vijoynagar road

24 July 2019

ITANAGAR, Jul 24: Governor of Arunachal Pradesh Dr BD Mishra convened a high level meeting here at the Raj Bhavan to discuss in detail about the long pending Miao-Vijoynagar road construction issue. Read more

DCM calls for early construction of Miao-Vijaynagar road

23 July 2019

ITANAGAR, Jul 23: Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein has called for constructing the Miao-Vijaynagar road in Changlang district “on a war footing.” … He said the government is ready to provide an additional fund of Rs 39 crore for realignment and construction of culverts and bridges, as sought by the department. …Read more

CM, governor review developmental activities

20 July 2019

ITANAGAR, Jul 20: The governor and the CM reviewed various developmental activities, programmes and ongoing projects in the state. They discussed expediting the Miao-Vijoynagar road project, planning for the next academic session of the sainik school in Niglok in East Siang district, and the programmes and functioning of the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission. Read more

Mosang, Mishra discuss welfare measures for Vijoynagar

11 July 2019

ITANAGAR, Jul 11: Civil Supplies Minister Kamlung Mosang called on Governor BD Mishra at the Raj Bhavan here on 11 July and the two discussed matters related to the welfare of the people of Vijoynagar administrative circle in Changlang district.

…Acknowledging that Vijoynagar remains cut off all through the year, and is extremely inaccessible during the rainy season, Mishra asked Mosang to “reactivate work on the Miao-Vijoynagar road at the earliest,” and said he would like to chair a meeting on the issue on 15 July. Read more… and also in Dawnlitpost.

Tapir Gao speaks on MV Road in Parliament

9 July 2019

The other initiative is by MP Tapir Gao in Parliament during the Budget discussion on 9 July 2019. This is the first time an MP talked about Vijoynagar area.

A Brief Report of Peaceful Rally in Itanagar

A rally that will be remembered as one forcibly stopped by AAPSU

Photo: Students with placards during the rally.

The Arunachal media and the powerful people wanted to remove even a trace of this protest.

The jointly organized rally by the All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-Corruption Students’ Union (AAPACSU) and the All Yobin Students Union (AYSU) did not do this for fun. This was the result of much frustration as the authorities ignored to all their demands. See the summary of prior initiatives by the two unions.

The rally was scheduled from Akash Deep to Tennis Court IG Park in Itanagar City on the 3rd May 2018. However it did not go as planned as the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) intercepted them right at the start and then again at Petrol Pump, where no further progress was possible.

Photo: Protesters holding the banners.

“Arunachal Bachao Andolan” was the theme of the protest. Since the rally is a genuine matter, the Deputy Commissioner of Itanagar granted NOC for the day. The four charter demands were:

  1. Removal of Panchayati Raj illegally extended to the Settlers of Vijoynagar Circle.
  2. Provide rationale for allowing the Settlers of Vijoynagar in Panchayati Raj system in VIjoynagar.
  3. Immediate suspension of Deputy Commissioner of Changlang, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Miao and Circle Officer of VIjoynagar, for favouring the Settlers at the expense of the local tribe.
  4. Immediate completion of Miao to Vijoynagar Road.

None of the Arunachal dailies published about this protest, except on in Eastern Sentinel where AAPSU was projected as the hero instead of the leaders of the rally, entitled “AAPSU calls for restraint on Yobin issue”.

But the local Itanagar TV channels released the videos:

  1. Itanagar News with the comments: “A Peacefull rally of All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-corruption Student’s union and All Yobin Student’s Union has been stopped by All Arunachal Pradesh Students’union and claims protest as unconstitutional.”

  2. Arunachal Mirror TV entitled “Students protest for development” and with comments: Yobin students protest for Development and Equality in Vijay Nagar under Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh. Vijay nagar is a place where people pay Rs 200 for a KG of sugar and Rs 150 for an equal amount of salt.

It is now over a month since the protest, we still await for government’s response. Hope the Unions do not have to push further movements.

Oram assures inclusion of 5 tribes of Arunachal in ST list

This kind of news is like fresh air for our society. We have been pressed down from getting up as a tribe. When we struggle in the core of our identity as an arunachalee, it is almost impossible to dream of bigger visions. Now I look forward for the final day when our tribe appears in the Central’s list of ST. (AP Times, 7 June 2018)

Few days later I read another news piece where MOS Kiren Rejiju asked Ninong Ering to directly talk with the State Government where the Yobin’s case has been forwarded. There seems to be a gap. Source: Arunachal News. 

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Oram assures inclusion of 5 tribes of Arunachal in ST list

NEW DELHI, Jun 6: Member of Parliament Ninong Ering said he has received assurance from Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram that the Yobin, Nocte, Tutsa, Tangsa and Wancho tribes will be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST) of Arunachal Pradesh “in a time-bound manner.”

Ering on Tuesday met the tribal affairs minister here, and requested him for early inclusion of these tribes in the list.

“Non-inclusion has deprived them from availing various government facilities and jobs,” he told the union minister.

The parliamentarian from the state has been raising the issue since 2016 by introducing a private members’ bill for inclusion of these tribes in the Arunachal Pradesh ST list.

Recently, Ering communicated with the union home ministry’s registrar general and census commissioner, requesting for inclusion of these tribes in the state’s ST list.

“The registrar general was of the opinion that the ministry of tribal affairs, being the nodal ministry in matters pertaining to STs, can take a final decision regarding this issue,” Ering said.

Yobins and their tryst with APST

The following article at the AP Times Readers’ Forum (30 May 2017) is in response to the AAPSU’s discussion (28 May) of “ST Status of the Yobins/Lisus” in the context of Refugees and Settlers.

The Government of AP unjustly committed injustice against the Yobins once again.

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Dear Editor,

We want to ask everybody never again to discuss Indigenous Yobin issue in the category of Refugees or Settlers. It is a pain to read Yobin tagged in such situation time and again. Please get these facts straights:

1. Did you know that Yobin people have never migrated into India? Yobins have been aborigines of Dawodi (Vijoynagar) area long before the area was annexed into NEFA? And are you aware that the international boundary around Vijoynagar was finalized with Burma only in 1972? And Yobin tribe played a crucial role then which has been recorded.

2. Did you know that it was only on May 7th 1961, Lisu Sidi Village was re-named as Gandhigram and the flag of India was unfurled for the first time in Gandhigram?

3. Are you aware that YOBIN Scheduled Tribe is fully covered under Presidential Order 1956, -“Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Lists (Modification) Order, 1956”. Sc III, Part-II, 2. And such has been the interpretation by the Law Ministry, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Office of the Registrar Genral of India, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

4. You may not be aware that while there are 106 tribes in AP, only 16 names are in the Notified ST List of Arunachal Pradesh! But the State Legislature rightfully extends ST benefits to all the indigenous tribes of the State. Yobin is gazetted as a Scheduled Tribe.

There are a lot more evidences available. You could ask all the questions you want at yobinsata@rediffmail.com.

Of course the Yobin ST Notification was practically withdrawn since March 2017. And this was done for there was a Procedural Error. But in the same letter that came from MTA / Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the Ministry clearly wrote that ” But the People is Scheduled Tribe”. And the Ministry has asked Govt of Arunachal to send a Comprehensive ST List of AP. And this work is under process. Ref: MTA LETTER NO 16014/9/2015-C & LM-1. Dated 08/03/2016. New Delhi.

So, Yobin is never ever demanding APST! We already are. We are just claiming what is already ours constitutionally. And the matter is under procedural correction. That is all.

Once again, let us tell you, if you are questioning Yobin’s Tribal Arunachal Identity, you are either exhibiting ignorance or going against the Presidential Order. It is true that Yobin Tribe has been sidelined, marginalized, maligned, and misrepresented for over 40 years now! The tribe is heavily afflicted for reasons not told to the tribe, yet the tribe is not destroyed. The community is very much alive and well. God has not forsaken the community.

So, all good hearted fellow Arunachalees are requested to champion Yobin’s genuine cause. We shall overcome someday!

Yours,

Aphu A Ngwazah.

Gandhigram

AAPSU team meets CS, takes up refugee issue

I am on several occasions surprised at the lack of understanding of the AAPSU leadership on the Lisu/Yobin. See the news item below (AP Times, August 12, 2014)

· Branded Lisu and Yobin tribes separate tribes.

· Still considers Yobin not as an indigenous tribe. If not, tell which tribe is.

· They have no idea that the Govt has already prepared a Family Dossier (Census of people) to avail ST certificate.

Another surprise: Why are the AAPSU silent on the Ex-Service Settlers in Vijoynagar area?

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AAPSU team meets CS, takes up refugee issue

ITANAGAR, Aug 12: Members of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) led by its vice president-cum-chairman Refugee Affairs Likha Takar and member secretary Refugee Affairs Arjun Dodum called on state Chief Secretary and Secretary Political to discuss its earlier representation submitted to the government regarding the Tibetan Refugee issue, here today.

Stating that many Tibetan and Bhutanese nationals are availing licenses and certificates by showing fake documents which are otherwise meant for the local people only and misguide the government, Likha Takar appealed the government officials to verify the persons before issuing such documents since it adversely impacts the rights of the indigenous people. Expressing concern over the state government’s decision to issue ST certificates to Lisu and Yobin tribes, he said that it could pose a threat to the indigenous tribes of the state especially, in Changlang district because both the said tribes are settled at Miao and Vijoynagar near the Myanmar border are now starting to illegally migrate into the state after hearing the government’s decision.

While urging the state government to initiate strict measures to check such alleged illegal migrants by alerting the Assam Rifle at various check posts, he further requested the government to identify and prepare a census of Lisu and Yobin tribes who have been settled in state since many years, to avoid future problems.

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The following were responses to this press release:

1. Readers’ Forum (Date: 14 August 2015)

Do not zero in on one community

Dear Editor,

I’d like to make a comment on your news “AAPSU team meets CS, takes up refugee issue” that concerns the Yobin (Date: 12 August 2015).

I think the principle that AAPSU leadership is advocating is very reasonable and should be addressed: Illegal migrants must be checked. Tribes that have their population beyond Indian boundary need to come under this purview. Perhaps it might bring relief that the Govt has prepared a Family Dossier of Yobin to provide community certificates.

Having said that I have a couple of objections with this news item.

First, AAPSU alleged we have “now starting to illegally migrate into the state”. Please substantiate facts and if needed constitute an inspection team if we have people in addition to the names in the Family Dossiers. Second, we are called “settled”. I question who settled us? The government “found” us on 7th May 1961 and the Indo-Burma boundary was not demarcated until then. Third, the team said “It could pose a threat to the indigenous tribes of the state especially, in Changlang district”. Who is the indigenous tribe in Vijoynagar area?

Furthermore, as many know, the voice AAPSU cried concerns a small tribe of below 4,000 people. Our people hardly increase 1000 people per decade. The census data gives those details.

I look forward to a day when leaderships in Arunachal Pradesh take up wider issues and implement consistently, instead of zeroing in a particular community.

Yours,

Liahey

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2. AP Times (16 August 2015)

Misplaced facts

Dear Editor,

This is regarding the news article which appeared on Aug. 12th under the caption ” AAPSU team meet CS, takes up refugee issue”.

First of all, I appreciate the AAPSU team for taking up the refugee issue for the betterment of the future in our state. For this spirit must not end at any cost.

But I felt strong resentment at the immature allegation meted out to one particular tribe: the Yobins.

We are not that foolish to allow anyone to cross into our area! We have a small land to live in! And I wonder if “Yobin” is the only tribe residing in the border areas.

It hurts a lot when the leaders who are our brothers and sisters of the state are indiscriminately hurling resentful things against a particular tribe. It is not wise to discriminate against a particular tribe without having full knowledge of the real facts.

The AAPSU team have narrow knowledge of the matters as they do not seem to know who is a settler and who the indigenous tribe of Vijoynagar circle are.

The team do not seem the know the difference between Yobin and Lisu.

And the team do not seem to know that we possess family dossier.

Yours,

Barak Ngwazah

Shillong

ST status for Yobin is still distant dream

Letter to the AP Times Editor.

Dear Editor,

The news titled “Union Tribal Affairs Minister assures CM on nomenclature issue” published on 12 September is a strategic step from the Chief Minister. He seems to realize that unless he gets involved into this matter the issue of Scheduled Tribes (ST) from AP will not expedite.

But what alarmed me was the mention of only the change of nomenclature of few tribes and “Any Naga Tribes”. Where does the demand of Yobin for ST stand? Is it that the newspaper failed to report or the Government plans to sideline us again?

The report also confirmed that the State’s recommendation has not been consistent because it said “… He [Minister for Tribal Affairs] requested the State Government to immediately send official recommendations for the same through the State Secretariat, which he said is the normal procedure…”

Recently, union minister Ninong Ering has been telling about this gap to us and to our local MLA. But our MLA and the State had been saying “No further recommendation is needed; your matter is with centre.” Now the Minister for Tribal Affairs had personally informed our Chief Minister. I hope the matter will be processed through proper channel with complete list of ST from Arunachal.

We always request for immediate declaration of Yobin as ST because it is a great need. All the other tribes of Arunachal Pradesh have been receiving facilities as ST, but for Yobin such facilities are far away.

Yours,

Liahey Ngwazah

Source: AP Times Readers’ Forum (16 September 2013), TOI (14 September 2013).

Hunter turns guide for green teams in Namdapha

We all know our people in the picture. They are projected as “hunters”. This is what frustrates me about Aparajita and the Nature Conservation Foundation. It is good for them to get funding but what image that proclaim to their “wildlife world”? Its also fund to read Aparajita’s dream for the development of our people.

But, as always, history tells the complete story. After 10 years of fieldwork in our area, every one of us know her and her team’s true picture, completely from 2010. Now I wonder whether there will be anyone from our people to invite that team in our home.

In addition to the two articles in this blog, there are many more Roopak Goswami and others have reported in the Telegraph:

  • Core area chaos at Namdapha – Efforts to resettle tribals for conservation face twin hurdles (Telegraph India, 16 Sep 2009).
  • Probe team in Namdapha – Reports of hunting, ineffective protection measures spark move (Telegraph India, 19 March 2012).

  • Aircraft cover for Namdapha tigers – Microlight plane to hover over sanctuary in Arunachal for surveillance (Telegraph India, 31 July 2009).
  • Report exposes security flaws at Namdapha – National Tiger Conservation Authority recommends audit and selection of staff for tiger reserve (Telegraph India, 22 January 2013).

  • Namdapha location both asset & drawback – Staff accused of laxity (Telegraph India, 29 Dec 2006)
  • Tiger sighted in Namdapha – Big cat spotted on camera, pug marks promise more (Telegraph India, April 4 , 2012).

Continue to read….

Liahey

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Source: Hunter turns guide for green teams in Namdapha – Conservation foundation turns to Lisu tribesmen to save endangered species and generate awareness, by ROOPAK GOSWAMI (Telegraph India, 9 July 2007)

Lisu tribesmen fix a camera-trap at the park. Picture by Aparajita Dutta

Guwahati, July 8: The stealthy footsteps that once scoured forests to capture unsuspecting prey, now lead conservationists to rare species on the brink of extinction.

Akhi Nathany, a Lisu tribesman of Arunachal Pradesh, has traded his hunting gear for binoculars. The credit for the exchange goes to Nature Conservation Foundation, a Mysore-based group that aims to conserve wildlife in Arunachal Pradesh by involving tribal communities.

Nathany, now a gram panchayat member, is the main field co-ordinator of the foundation. The 55-year-old has donned the mantle of a guide, directing conservation teams with their camera-traps to even the most inaccessible of Namdapha National Park.

“People like him have unmatched knowledge of the terrain and landscape of the park. He will just find a way out of nowhere and navigate you to where you want to go. We just explain some features of the area we want to go to and show him some streams and other reference points on a map and he takes us there, without any trails or tracks. Without his help, it would have been impossible to conduct camera-trap surveys,” said Aparajita Datta, a scientist working with the foundation.

The organisation works primarily with the Lisu tribe that has settled on the fringes of the reserve forest. Several former hunters are engaged in the wildlife monitoring program which offers return benefits like medical support, training in healthcare and education, by supporting schools and teachers in the villages.

The park sprawls over an area of 1,985.23 square km on the international border between India and Myanmar, in Arunachal’s Changlang district.

Aparajita pointed out that as most of the work has to be done on foot, the teams need people to ferry rations and equipment.

“We need people to go back to get rations as they run out. Also, we place one trap in a particular location for 15 days, and then move on to new spots. But we would like to place the camera-traps simultaneously. As we have a limited number of traps at our disposal, some of the Lisus go back to retrieve the contraptions from earlier locations and bring them to the next spot,” she said.

A community protection force for the park has also been mooted. As many as 25 species of mammals, including 10 rare and endangered breeds like the clouded leopard, Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear and marbled cat, have been spotted here.

The organisation is also enlisting the help of the tribe to prepare an educational CD in Hindi for children in the state. “We will get a Nishi or Lisu narrator once the visuals, audio and script for the CD are put together,” she said.

Livelihood options for the Lisus have also been discussed. Leaders of the community have suggested starting a piggery to meet consumption and income needs.

“After much discussion, a plan has been worked out where beneficiaries will be identified and modalities framed accordingly. This will involve contributions from the community in the form of labour and manpower. Financial assistance for the piggery will be provided by the foundation as initial investments. Work will begin around September or October, after the monsoon,” Aparajita informed.

The foundation has also contacted organisations in Guwahati, Bangalore and New Delhi to promote indigenous Lisu handicrafts.

“Samples, pictures and product descriptions have been sent to two commercial enterprises as well as some entrepreneurs. The effort has yielded some supplementary income for a few families here. We have also granted financial support to a partner NGO near Namdapha to help set up a tribal handicrafts shop that will enable villagers to augment their income. We hope it will go a long way in generating awareness among local residents and tourists about the park. The shop is ready and will be open in time for the winter tourist traffic,” she said.

Special force pill for Namdapha

The expert committee has very strategic thinking: to bring into working relationship with the Yobin community and the Namdapha Tiger Project. They don’t talk anything about pushing the Namdapha National Park boundary back. They also talk about recruiting our people as protection force.

But the goal of all these assessment is to try to relocate our people outside the National Park’s limit.

Enjoy reading…

Liahey

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Source: Special force pill for Namdapha – Evaluation experts suggest involving Lisus to prevent poaching, by ROOPAK GOSWAMI (Telegraph India, 6 Dec 2010).

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.