In an unfortunate turn of events, one pregnant woman who was participating in the ongoing agitation demanding immediate rehabilitation of 1,480 families of Laika-Dodhia Village breathed her last at Assam Medical College Hospital (AMCH) on Friday.
The deceased has been identified as Kusmita Morang. Morang’s health deteriorated following which she was admitted to AMCH three days back in a serious condition.
The villagers at Laika and Dodhia, situated in the Dibru Saikhowa National Park have been protesting in front of the District Deputy Commissioner’s office demanding permanent rehabilitation since December 21.
However, their movement to find a permanent home has been ongoing for the last 70 years, since a massive earthquake ravaged the state in 1950. These villagers belong to the Mising tribe and hail from Dhemaji and Dibrugarh districts. While Laika village falls under the Dibrugarh district, Dodhia village forms part of the Tinsukia district.
However, since India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 prohibits any kind of human settlement within a national park, no development has taken place in these two villages.
Surrounded by the Brahmaputra in the north and the Dibru in the west, these villages are cut off from the mainland and devoid of basic amenities like electricity, water supply, health care and education. Moreover, frequent floods and erosion in the area have also affected these villages to a great extent.
For the past several years the villagers have been staging protests and rallies demanding a permanent settlement.
As per reports, the Assam government had last year proposed to rehabilitate the families on a 470-hectare plot of land in the Owguri area of the Upper Dihing Reserve Forest.
However, the state forest department objected to the move saying that 7,000 trees will have to be uprooted for clearing the land.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on December 30 last year constituted a committee to find a logical and lasting solution for the rehabilitation of these families. The chief minister further asked the state environment and forest and revenue department to permanently rehabilitate the families by January 31 this year.