PASIGHAT- In a sudden jerk to the office and management of Wildlife Trust of India, Noida (UP), and World Land Trust (UK), the D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor Project being under implementation at the areas like Sibiya Chapori and Mer Khutis under D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary by DFO Pasighat Forest Division and Kotga Gora Committee, the office of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife & Biodiversity has stopped the work owing to the wrong management of the project and it’s disturbing the communal harmony in the areas of Mer and Paglam village, the fringe villages of D. Ering WLS.
In a letter to the founder & Chief Executive Officer, Wildlife Trust of India on 10th November 2022 vide its No. CWL/D/21 (466)/2022/2554-57, PCCF wildlife office had received several complaints against the project implementation. The PCCF office had also anticipated of worsening of the situation which if not stopped may further lead to law and order issues due to allegations and counter-allegations by the different local groups. So, though the elephant conservation-related works are well appreciated, the PCCF Wildlife office has stopped and halted the project until further order and the situation becomes normal. The details of the project and its implementation along with the MoU/MoA signed with the concerned authorities were also sought by the office of PCCF from the WTI.
The PCCF office had also written to Addl. Dy. Commissioner, Mebo, East Siang District to take appropriate legal action as deemed necessary to prevent any law and order situation in connection with the same D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor project. The office of ADC Mebo had also intimated to the office of PCCF Wildlife and had sought for clarification of the detailed elephant corridor project at Namsing circle under ADC Mebo vide its No. MO/DEV-06/2015/2330-37, dated 06/10/2022 after receiving several complaints from the villagers of Mer.
It is important to mention here that, the D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor Project was proposed from the office of D. Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary on 27/8/2016 vide No. DMS/DEV/44/06/435 by the then DFO, D. Ering WLS in order to create a safe passage for wild elephants’ movement between D. Ering WLS of Arunachal Pradesh and Dibru Saikhowa National Park of Assam which are located closely. However, the said project when it was finalized and sanctioned for implementation during 2019-20, the project was bypassed from D. Ering WLS and it was taken over by DFO, Pasighat Forest Division by forming an NGO named Kotga Gora Community Conserve Reserve.
Earlier, during the start, DFO, Pasighat Forest Division, T. Mize had claimed of having brought the said D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor Project under his individual capacity, but not as a DFO D. Ering WLS, as he was the DFO of D. Ering WLS when the project was proposed. But later, the evidence of the letter proved that it was proposed by DFO, D. Ering WLS and when incumbent DFO, D. Ering WLS, T. Taga had inquired about the project from the office of WTI, the Chairman cum Founder CEO, Vivek Menon had assured the DFO D. Ering WLS of not further bypassing the project from the D. Ering WLS by correcting that, any earlier work happened with the previous DFO may only have been as he was the officer dealing with it in the past. But despite of this assurance from the Chairman of WTI, the then PCCF & HoFF, RK Singh was misled by DFO (T), Tashi Mize and his Kotga Gora Community Conserve Reserve only to take over the project by misinforming and misleading the PCCF and WTI that the project implementation falls outside the sanctuary’s jurisdiction. Several villagers including Gaon Burahs from Mer, Paglam and Namsing were fielded to convince PCCF and WTI head at Itanagar during 2020 when Vivek Menon visited Itanagar just to hijack the project. Even Kotga Gora NGO was used to transfer out DFO D. Ering WLS just after its formation in order to grab the project or to hold dual charge of the Pasighat Forest division and D. Ering WLS. Even police-cracked wildlife hunting case reported by media was also attempted to be nullified by using the Kotga Gora NGO to save the image of DFO (T), T. Mize who was found to be protecting his hunter brother-in-law then during 2020
Hence, the game of politics played by DFO (T), Tashi Mize and Kotga Gora team just to grab the project led to cheating and forgery work in false donation work of community lands at Mer and Paglam by a few selective individuals which later resulted in complaints and cross complaints between the villagers. At Mer village, even police complaints were lodged against the members of Kotga Gora. Hence, administrative officers of Namsing (CO) and ADC Mebo also wrote to the office of PCCF for inquiries and to provide details about the project. The DFO, D. Ering WLS had also sought for the details and stopping of the project, but the politicking game of team DFO (T) and Kotga Gora Community Conserve Reserve were high with the support of some individual officers and public leaders who were also misled by the DFO (T) with the support of WTI officials, one Sunil Kyarong who was with deep nexus in the dubious implementation of the project where they are suspected to have mismanaged huge amount of funds/money in the name of the project.
Such mismanagement and improper implementation of the D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor Project also adversely affected the usual conservation work in D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary, as the community was divided into two parts. Those villagers who were earlier cooperating with the sanctuary authority in its conservation work turned hostile against the D. Ering WLS due to politicking played by the DFO (T) and Kotga Gora team whose sole objective was only to grab the funds for the project.
The D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor at the Assam-Arunachal boundary near Mer and Paglam is widely used by wild elephants for movement between the D. Ering WLS and Dibru Saikhowa National Park. The main objective of the project was to create a plantation for the improvement and protection of elephant corridors while also providing a sustainable livelihood for the local community of project implementation sites to gain confidence and cooperation with the sanctuary authority. To inquire about the ground reality, PCCF Wildlife cum Chief Wildlife Warden, Nyilyang Tam also visited the project implementation site on 20th November last at Sibia-Chapori area of D. Ering WLS recently and had questioned about the failure of plantations under the Elephant corridor project as more than 80% of the plantation were damaged by the cattle due to absence of cattle guard in the plants because the entire area is grazed by cattle of Khutis/cattle rearing.
However, the mismanagement of the project by hijacking it from the part of DFO (T) has caused huge damages in the conservation work in D. Ering WLS and hence the project need to be investigated in detail though its closed now. The fund misuses also need to be inquired, as it is believed that huge amounts were mismanaged. The WTI and World Land Trust (UK) also need to investigate such poor and improper management of a project which brings a bad name to the refuted agencies like WTI and WLT. The incumbent DFO, D. Ering WLS, Tasang Taga has entirely blamed the mismanagement to the DFO (T), Tashi Mize, and WTI representative, Sunil Kyarong, as both had a deep nexus to mismanage the funds in the name of the community of project implementation site.