On the Intangki Impasse

Wetshokhrolo Lasuh

As a believer in the need to preserve whatever little natural wealth Nagaland is left with, the attention of this writer has been drawn to the recent and present impasse over the Intangki National Park. The park is a treasure that the people of Nagaland must cherish, reserve/conserve and promote. Any Naga who is a patriot at heart is presumably grieved by the occupation of any size of land within its precinct.

Nagaland was lush and green once, abound in flora and fauna. However, owing to ruthless deforestation and unscrupulous systematic hunting/fishing expeditions with modern arms, the Nagas have lost so much. One can well see the denuded stretches of the once beautiful landscape filled with trees, plants, birds, animals and fish. 

These days it is a rare treat to come across birds and animals as one travels across the districts of the state. Even where there still remain patches of forest land, one can hardly hear birds singing any longer. In fact, in some villages, hunters have even calculated in which area there still remains a deer or two, how many groups of partridges still exist, etc. What appalls one more is how they wonder aloud who would be the “fortunate” one to kill them, each sincerely wishing he would be the one. Experts say many rare and important species of plants and animals not found elsewhere have been destroyed over the years. Nagaland has grown that poor in flora and fauna.

It is only recently that some villages have started declaring certain areas of community land “reserve areas”. They are the wise ones that others too must take after. It is against such backdrop that one must realise how fortunate the people of Nagaland, and specially the Nagas, are to still have the Intangki National Park. Some people might wish that if the park were located in their district or community land, they would protect it properly. But that would be crying over spilt milk. They had their chances of preserving their flora and fauna but have failed to. As for now, perhaps all they can do is envy the blessed community in whose land it is located and do whatever they can to redeem their nearly bare natural environment.

Encroaching upon the park area, individuals from various communities have been setting up villages and settlements, resulting in eviction acts over the years. However, a time has come when they must leave everything they should and settle elsewhere. This will not be the easiest of things to do. But that must be done by them as a mark of dignity, self-respect and respect for the national treasure. If they do not, they will drown themselves in dishonour when the State Government and the Hohos do the inevitable by taking action upon them (Decision carried in the 21 June, 2009 edition of the local dailies).

As for a recent comment by an organisation that the Forest Department has not been doing its best, the Minister concerned has claimed that the department has been doing its best to protect the Intangki National Park despite a hostile and difficult working atmosphere. 

However, it might have been perceived by the organisation that the department’s best is not good enough and this view could be shared by a few others. In such eventuality, it may be pertinent for the department to make an introspection/retrospection and try to come up with alternative or supplementary strategies of protecting the park. A BLUEPRINT on how to protect the park should be developed with the participation of experts in the department (and perhaps the administration too) through exercises like brainstorming, mind mapping and comparative study into how other states here or overseas keep their parks. Meanwhile, it would be just to consider the constraints under which the department functions.

It is at junctures such as this that the media needs to make extra effort to be judicious in the interpretation of statements. They should make objective studies for stories to be published. Historical researches need to be undertaken. Perhaps editorials delving into this issue should be further taken up. The significance of the Fourth Estate as a facilitator of truth and justice is immense. It is not an easy task for sure. But the effort it makes at achieving this is the reason of its respect – being called the most powerful estate. “But who cares about Intanki after all?” God forbid one from saying so! Because caring for one’s environment is ultimately caring for one’s own survival and wealth.

(The writer is a freelance writer-editor. He teaches Education in college. He is also associated with Earth Patrol and The Eastern Association for Social Tasks as secretary and president respectively.)