Tripura forest dept cuts down rubber trees from sanctuary

Agartala: Tripura forest department has decided to cut down all the rubber trees in Sepahijala sanctuary considering a negative impact on natural bio-diversity and wildlife.

Wildlife officials here on Wednesday said after an elaborate assessment the authority had decided to extract timber for the mature rubber trees and other young trees would be chopped off just to save the environment at least in the sanctuary premise.

“Not only in Sepahijala, the same exercise will be carried out in Trishna bison sanctuary, Gomati sanctuary and Roa bird sanctuary where rubber trees are found prominent,” said a top official of the department.

Although there is not enough proof to supplement the ill-affect of expansion of rubber cultivation in Tripura, yet considering it’s a major threat to bio-diversity and overall environment department has taken the decision, said Amit Debbarma, Wildlife warden in Sepahijala.

He did not admit “any casualty of animal by consuming toxic rubber leaves or nuts,” but, confessed that “cultivation of rubber has created a severe crisis of natural food of the animals in sanctuary as well as in the nearby forest areas.”

However, another source of wildlife division claimed that three animals including deer and the rare spectacled monkey have died after consuming rubber leaves and nuts in first few months and autopsy report of the died animal confirmed it.

Rubber cultivation has begun in the sanctuaries since the early seventies in a modest way as cash crop to rehabilitate poor tribal, practicing slash and burn (Jhum) method of agricultural in natural forest but it becomes havoc and telling upon natural forest and bio-diversity, attributed Debbarma.

Rubber monoculture destructing natural forest has become a biggest activity in Tripura and over altogether 59.285 hectare of land have already been brought under exclusive coverage of rubber production.

Forest officials argued rubber latex extracted from the trees contained 70 per cent water which is then put through the process of ‘coagulation’ or condensed by applying acid. Actually Formic acid should be applied for condensation but since it is expensive and not easily available those producing rubber sheets from latex indiscriminately use Sulphuric and even Nitric acids.

As a result, residual of row acids flow down to natural streams, water bodies, ponds and in open fields which result in indiscriminate death of small life forms like inspects, pests and even fishes and also became detrimental for agricultural production, officials blamed adding that rubber is also extracting excessive amount of underground water, destroying the soil and water table. (UNI)

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