The Kaziranga sub-project dyke is the second of the 3 subprojects (Palasbari- Gumi, Kaziranga, and Dibrugarh) approved in 2010 to increase the reliability and effectiveness of flood and riverbank erosion in the flood-prone area, along the Brahmaputra river in the eastern state of Assam, India. The project, which has created major concerns to the local people of the area, operates under the State Government of Assam (GoA) with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to the tune of $ 150 million USD .
According to Jeepal Krishak Sramik Sangha (JKSS), a Bokakhat based farmers’ organization, the project will have a direct impact on the life, livelihood, culture and environment of indigenous people residing in the project area.
The agitation in the area started in November 2017, after the land acquisition notice for the development of the project came out in the news on 4/11/2017. At that time, a first memorandum by the local people was sent to the sub-divisional officer of Bokakhat, and copied to the Flood and River Erosion Management Agency of Assam (FREMAA) - the institution which is implementing the subproject - and to the ADB. At that time the organization asked for a) the availability of a social impact assessment in a vernacular language and the need to hold a public hearing with the locals, b) a review of the land acquisition notification and a proper compensation package to all the affected people, and c) a copy of the detailed project .
However till now, these requests have not been considered and the indigenous people, mostly belong to the indigenous Mishing community, continue to protest against the project. The major concerns are relative to the lack of transparency in the project, the wrong details in the survey of people living within the area and hence affected by the project, and the measures of compensation which are not considered fair and just to the affected people . Till now a number of 5 memorandum have been sent to the divisional officers of Bokakhat without receiving any reply. The news recount that the project does not have any adverse impact on the environment, as per the Environmental Impact Assessment carried on in October 2009 . However, according to the local organization, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has not been seriously taken, and the guidelines of the Land Acquisition Act (2013) has not been properly followed and the informed consent of the people not taken.
On December 24 and 26, 2018 two public hearings have been held by the Sub-Divisional officer but failed to satisfy the people. Indeed, as per declaration of local people, the meetings were only informative without following any democratic procedure and without asking for any consent to the locals [2,5].
On January 27 2019, 30 villages of Mariahola and Dhansirimukh area have come out in protest against the failure of the Golaghat district administration to hold a discussion with the people of Kaziranga. In fact against the will of the people, the authorities have started demolishing the houses for the development of the project, failing to recognize and respond to the demands of the people . Speaking to The Assam Tribune the advisers of Jeepal, namely Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley said "the people of Belaguri area under Kaziranga Mouza have been ordered to abandon their residential plots. Further, the authorities had been uprooting standing trees in their orchards. All these activities have been carried out by the authorities without publishing the list of the people who would be subjected to eviction for the purpose of constructing the dyke, the amount of compensation they would be entitled to, and also without conducting any environmental impact study, among others" .
The last meeting was finally held with the ADB representatives on 30 January 2019. However, the people are continuing resisting against the project till their demands are satisfied and all the environmental and indigenous rights recognized:
1)Every individual whose land would be acquired for the project irrespective of patta, touzi, etc. be granted equal compensation.
2)The compensation and rehabilitation be categorically done as per the 'Resettlement and Indigenous People's Plan’ by immediately rectifying the errors in the survey process.
3)The sluice gate which currently is built only upholding the concerns of KNP& TR should be immediately reviewed and made for the people's concerns .