The Assam government is all set to carry out a major eviction drive in Sonitpur district on Saturday to clear encroachments from 330 acres of land, a senior official said.
The drive will be carried out at No. 3 Chitalmari area in Barchalla assembly constituency, currently represented by BJP MLA Ganesh Kumar Limbu, along the northern bank of Brahmaputra River.
“We are ready to carry out the eviction drive from tomorrow morning. All the necessary formalities have been completed and around 1,000 security personnel have arrived for operation,” a senior official of the Sonitpur district administration told PTI on condition of anonymity.
As per government records, 299 families were living in the area, but more than 90 per cent have already left after receiving the notice around eight months back.
The official said that patrolling and area domination exercises have been carried out since August 31 after the arrival of the security forces, and that has influenced people to vacate the land voluntarily.
“We could not carry out the eviction drive earlier due to various reasons. Now, most of the people have agreed that this is government land and it will be used for developmental work,” he added.
Locals claimed that most of the residents on the land parcel had migrated to the location several decades ago from Nagaon and Morigaon districts on the southern bank of Brahmaputra following massive erosion of their lands.
When asked about the demographic pattern of the alleged encroachers, the official said, “It is a mix of several communities. The most number of families are Bengali-speaking Muslims, followed by people from the Bengali Hindu and Gorkha communities.” Limbu, the two-time MLA, claimed that most of the families have houses in other locations also and that is why they are leaving without any protest.
“These people also had voting rights and they have been voting in Barchalla for years,” said Limbu, a BJP politician from the Gorkha community.
Locals, however, criticised the administration and said that the government should have taken care of their rehabilitation as they had “lost everything” in flood and erosion decades ago.
“We were born and brought up here. Our children were studying here. What will happen to their education now?” a resident asked.
Special Director General of Police (law and order) Gyanendra Pratap Singh had visited the site on Thursday and reviewed the security arrangements.
Speaking to reporters, he had said that one IG-ranked official and three SP-ranked officials will be present during the eviction drive.
He had also claimed that the land is being cleared as the government is planning to set up a solar power plant in that location.