After completing its 40-year journey, an environment activists’ group in the Northeastern region, now has a twin mission—
create a new generation of conservationists and promote ecocentric ‘green’ literature.
The movement by the group of nature enthusiasts began in an organised manner in 1982 and since then it has braved all odds to conserve Assam’s wildlife and biodiversity, leading to the creation of Dihing-Patkai and Raimona National Parks and the Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary.
“In the face of the immense threat of climate change, we cannot remain complacent.
“Our organisation has completed 40 years of existence and we have launched a decade-long programme to mark our golden jubilee celebrations which primarily include imbibing the ethos of conservation among youngsters,” Soumyadeep Dutta, founder of ‘Nature’s Beckon’ which has been working in the area of environmental preservation in the region, told PTI.
The recent launch of the ‘Ahum Basudham Kriti Mangaljonok’ (I am a positive force for the earth) programme is the first initiative in this direction.
The programme has reached out to 100 schools across the state to involve one lakh children in the nature conservation movement, Dutta said.
This is the first time that so many school students came forward to participate in such an initiative, he said.
“By this programme, we remain firmly committed to leading the students towards a new horizon of mental empowerment and build a better future for our forests, for our country, and the planet,” he added.
During the British rule, the idea of conservation was practically non-existent as forests were used mainly as game sanctuaries for hunting wild animals, the environmentalist said.
“Even when we started our work, hunting did happen in some pockets, though the law against it had already come into force,” he said.
The British had given the status of sanctuaries to only Kaziranga, Manas, and Pobitora while all other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries came into existence in the state in the post-independence period only through “people’s revolution”, Dutta claimed.
It was since the 1980s that the idea of conservation took root in the state, he said.
“Assam has witnessed many agitations but I can assert that the environmental movement has been the most peaceful,” Dutta pointed out.
All other movements were based on language, groups, communities, or were politically motivated but “conservation is a movement where caste, creed, rich, poor, political, social or economic differences do not exist and people are guided by the single-minded goal of protecting nature.
“Awareness leading to a change in mindset has been our single-most achievement during the last four decades, leading to the creation of several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state and a very strong conservation movement in the state”, he said.
There are, however, challenges galore as a section, including those with vested interests, who still question the need to conserve the environment, and ‘’we have failed to convince or educate them fully,” he said.
Against this background, emphasis has been laid to create a genre of literature devoted to the environment that will leave a rich literary legacy for posterity, Dutta, an author of nearly 50 books on various related subjects, said.
Noted author Anuradha Sarma Pujari, whose book ‘Iyat Ekhon Aranya Asil’ (Here lay a Forest) won the Sahitya Akademi award, said that there was an “urgent need to promote eco-centric literature in the state to record its rich biodiversity”.
‘Nature’s Beckon’ has taken the initiative and litterateurs must contribute so that the younger generation is inspired to conserve the environment, she added.
Asam Sahitya Sabha’s former president and BJP MLA Parmananda Rajbongshi said that during his tenure in the premier literary organisation, he had taken the initiative of launching the ‘Seuj Sahitya’ (‘Green’ literature), leading to the publication of some books by both young and senior authors.
“I appeal to those with a flair for writing and love for nature to pen more books on nature, environment, and related topics, leading to more awareness”, he added.