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Villagers stage mass demonstration against demarcation of Dalma

Jamshedpur, Feb 5: Villagers from 136 villages along Dalma foothill today staged mass demonstration against demarcation of Dalma Eco Sensitive Zone.

The villagers expressed apprehension of eviction and loss of livelihood because restrictions to be imposed by the department of forest in the proposed Eco sensitive zone outlining the sanctuary. They said that if demarcated as Eco Sensitive Zone the villagers would lose their livelihoods.

The protestors alleged that the forest department wanted to evict the villagers by declaring Eco Sensitive Zone. Traffic went haywire on the road which passes through the East Singhbhum deputy commissioner’s office in Sakchi as a tribal outfit staged a massive dharna from 12 pm to 4.30 pm.

The worst affected were the school children as most of the city schools get over by 2 pm and the students who had to travel to their homes in Sakchi and Mango were stranded for hours.

Prompted by growing threat to ecological system, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has declared the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary of Singhbhum area an eco-sensitive zone.

As per the notification, the entire forest zone spread over an area of 522.98 sq kilometers, housing 85 villages inside the enclave and 51 villages in its periphery, has been kept out of bounds for any type of pucca construction.

The area up to five kilometres from the boundary of the protected Dalma sanctuary are part of the eco-sensitive zone. The eco-sensitive zone covers an area of 377.89 sq km that falls in East Singhbhum and another 145.09 sq km that is in Seraikela-kharsawan district.

The notification has stipulated that no concrete construction can be undertaken within 300 metre of the sanctuary while no industrial, mining, crushing, wood-based industries, saw mills and such commercial activities would be allowed within the five km radius from the boundary of the sanctuary area.

The Centre had to swing into action in keeping with increasing incidences of illegal construction and mining activities undertaken by some Mafiosi in the protected forest areas in connivance with local officials.

The notification also calls upon the State Government to draw up the Dalma zonal master plan within a year, which is to be approved by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

After being reprimanded by the Centre a number of times, the Jharkhand forest department started to act around three years ago. After months of survey, it identified a 10km protective belt around Dalma and submitted a plan to the Centre in March 2011.

On March 29, 2012, the Union ministry notified a 0-5km radius as eco-sensitive zone around Dalma, which roughly translates as a prohibited area for any sort of industrial activity that may threaten the sanctity of the elephant reserve.

Seeing the demonstration getting ugly, DC Dr. Amitabh Kaushal had to intervene and asked the villagers to stop the mass demonstration and assured them of full support.

Several political party leaders including JMM MLA Champai Soren, former MLA Dulal Bhuiyan, Ramdas Soren, Jamshedpur MP Vidhut Varan Mahato, DDC Lalmohan Mahato, SDO Prem Ranjan and City SP Karthik S assured the villagers of proper action.

Speaking about the move for staging dharna, Gramsabha Suraksha Manch Pradeep Bersa said that they were protesting as the government has not taken the Gram Sabhas into confidence before deciding to demark Dalma as eco sensitive zone.

He said that the villagers will also not allow Tata Steel from taking water from Dimna Lake. Later, a delegation of the villagers handed a memorandum addressed to the President of India to DC Amitabh Kaushal.

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