International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www

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HUMAN-INDUCED THREATS TO BIO-DIVERSITY IN NORTH-EAST INDIA WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO MAJULI
Gunaram Nath Associate Professor, Dept. of Pol. Science N. N. Saikia College, Titabor, Assam, India Email- gunaramnath.2011@gmail.com

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to highlight the significance of the biodiversity potentialities and human induced threat to biodiversity in the world’s biggest river Island Majuli in Brahmaputra Valley and also to analyse the key conservation issues of biodiversity. Keywords: Biodiversity, environmental degradation, ecosystem. 1. Introduction Bio-diversity is a term which embraces all living things on Earth. It refers to the wide variety of ecosystems and living organisms i.e. animals, plants, their habitats and genes. Biodiversity is the foundation of life on earth. It plays an important role in maintaining healthy growth of environment and ecological balance between living species and the nature. Oxygen, food, fresh water, fertile soil, medicines, Shelter, protection from storms, floods and erosion, stable climate and recreation – all have their source in nature and healthy ecosystems. Biodiversity is a dynamic and extremely complex phenomena. The maintenance of biodiversity of a particular region is a pre-condition for millions of species, including human being, to exist. But, the degradation of environment and ecosystem influenced by man’s activities have not only drawn the attention of the geomorphologies and environmentalist but also that of the Common people at large. Biodiversity is that feature of the earth which is most influenced by human activities. Hence, human induced threat to biodiversity has a great significance in research in the present day world. Biodiversity plays an important role in the maintenance of health of environment and human ecology. Degradation of environment has posed threat to biodiversity. Environmental degradation is concerned with the lowering of the quality of the environment. Lowering of environment quality may be at local, regional and Global Scales by both natural processes and human activities. Many of the natural factors are affected by economic and technological activities. In other words, the adverse changes in the environmental quality at local or regional scale are caused by human activities, and this may be a threat to biodiversity. Environmental degradation is always considered in terms of man. It is a comprehensive term which includes lowering and deterioration of environmental quality and bring immediate change in the environment and inflict colossal damage and loss to the environmental quality and living organisms. Human impact on environment fall into two broad categories viz. (a) Direct or intentional impact and (b) Indirect or Unintentional impact. Direct or intentional impact are pre-planned and pre-meditated, and are launched to change or modify the natural environment for economic development of the region concerned. It includes deforestation, construction of dams, diversion and manipulation of river channels, construction of dykes and embankments for flood protection, adoption of new agricultural practices etc. It is significant to point out that the effects of such anthropogenic changes in the natural environment are noticeable within short period and may continued to effect the environment for longtime and subsequently posing threat to biodiversity. W. L. Thomas (1956) has tried to explain the dimension of changes in various environmental processes affected by man before the wider section of scientific community and paved the way of changes in the environment processes induced by man and their remedial measures. 2. Study area The North-Eastern Region of India covering nearly 2,62,379 Sq. Km. area has been divided into two biogeographic Zones – Eastern Himalaya and North-East India, based on floristic composition, the nature of the flora and the local climate. (Rodgens and Panwar 1988) The North-East India biogeographic zone is most significant one. It has 64% of total Geographical area under forest cover and it is often quoted that it continues to be a forest surplus region. However, the forest cover is rapidly disappearing from the entire region. There has been a decrease of about 1,800 Sq. Km. in the forest cover between 1991 and 1999 (F.S.I. 2000). The North Eastern region is Geographically the “Gateway” for much of India’s flora

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
and Fauna, and as a result the region is one of the richest in biological values with vegetation types ranging from Tropical rain forest in the foothills to Alpine meadows and cold deserts. The North-East Region of India contains more than one-third of the country’s total biodiversity. Majuli, the world’s biggest inhabited river Island is located in Northern part of Jorhat district of Assam. It lies between 26045/ N- 27012/ N latitudes and 93039/ E- 94035/ E longitudes. Its four boundaries are natural barriers represented by the mighty river Brahmaputra and the Kherkatia –Lohit Channels. Majuli the world’s biggest river Island was created in between 1691 and 1696 (Dr. J.P. Wade, “An Account of Assam” 1927) Majuli is rich in biodiversity potentialities in the Brahmaputra Valley. In the present study the authors deliberately selected an umbrella concept, i.e. the human-induced threat to biodiversity in Majuli. In this empirical study, within various limitations the authors shall try to reveal those man-made factors which have been posing threat to human ecology and biodiversity in Majuli. 3. Objectives The objectives of this paper is to highlight the significance of the biodiversity potentialities and human induced threat to biodiversity in the world’s biggest river Island Majuli in Brahmaputra Valley and also analyse the key conservation issues of biodiversity. Hence, the main objectives of this paper are – (i) To examine the on-going ecological changes and their effects on biodiversity conservation in Brahmaputra valley in general and Majuli in particular. (ii) To investigate how different groups of societies view these changes and the causes behind the changes. (iii) To identify the human-induced factors for environmental degradation which have been posing threat to biodiversity in the Island. (iv) To highlight the measures suggested by different groups of people concerned to conserve the biodiversity and its sustainable use, and to draw the attention of the authorities concerned. (v) To create a source for future study.

4. Methodology The present study has been carried out by case study method with the help of an interview schedule to highlight the humaninduced threat to biodiversity in Majuli. A model questionaire was prepared to cover various aspects of the biodiversity prioritization. As representative respondents 190 households have been selected from the mass population of Salmora, Kamalabari and Ahatguri Mouza of Majuli Sub-Division by random Sampling Method. Apart from this, the opinions of the local knowledgeable individuals were taken into consideration to evaluate the situation. Other information and relevant data pertaining to this study have been collected from government offices of the district and Sub-Divisional level. Selfobservation method has been used wherever found necessary for understanding and realizing the environmental situation. Hence, the case study has been undertaken by historical cum observation methods to uphold the findings. 5. Case study Majuli is inhabited by different groups of people belonging to Missing, Deori, Konch, Kolita, Ahom, Kachari (Sonowal Kachari) Koibatra, Nath (Yogi), Brahmin, Gosain etc. The different tribes of indigenous people have been living in Majuli with peace, unity and amity since time immemorial. The Island is the nerves centre of Neo-Vaishnavite cultural heritage of Assam. Majuli has been regarded as the treasury of different types of indigenous and traditional culture and typical biological resources. The fresh non-polluted environment, life-style, special traditional food habits & house-types have been a unique feature of human ecology and geographical environment of Majuli. There is no natural forest set-up in Majuli. The whole Island is being dominated by the private and household small plantations and grass lands. The fruit plants are plenty. The aquatic and medicinal plants are in abundance for day-to-day use. The flood-prone Island is very rich in fish diversity, and this resource is being exported to other nearby market places. There are hundreds of bird species in Majuli. In fact, Majuli is known as the “Bird’s Haven”. The tasa with small-sized animals are planty, and the people also know their uses for ecological predictation purpose. Sericulture, like the culture EreMugha and Pat (silk) are household practices in the Island, and people are basically nature-lovers as well as environmentfriendly. But the recurring flood and soil erosion have been inflicting serious threat to the environment and ecosystem of the historic Island. Traditionally the nature-lover in habitants of Majuli donot kill birds and animals and never use their forest resources for means of earning livelihood. But this practices and protection ethics are being gradually wiped out from the Island. Wretchedness misery and unhappiness are the common features of the flood and erosion-affected people of Majuli today. Gunaram Nath, “Human induced threats to bio-diversity in North East India with special reference to Majuli”

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
The starving people are likely to use the natural environment for survival. As a result extreme environmental degradation started which posing threat to biodiversity in Majuli. In this paper, therefore, an attempt has been made to reveal the nature of such burning problems which accelerated the degration of ecosystem and environment in Majuli and human induced threat to the biodiversity of the Island. An attempt also has been made to forward some suggestions to the ecologists, environmentalists and other field scientists for undertaking future plan of action for biodiversity conservation mission. River is the most significant fluvial geomorphic process which shapes the surface of the earth at global scale. The erosional and depositional works of the rivers produce a variety of landforms on the earth’s surface on one hand and they undergo their own transformation through the processes under natural conditions without any anthropogenic manipulation on the other hand. This is why, perhaps, Nile is a gift to Egypt and Ganga is the economic back bone of North India and Brahmaputra is the life of Assam as well as the entire North-Eastern Region. What Hwang Ho is for China, what Tennessee is for S.E.U.S.A. The Brahmaputra is for Majuli. And this transformation of the Brahmaputra has been brought about by man-made activities and factors. 6. Human-induced threats to biodiversity in majuli The present study reveals that a series of human-induced factors are responsible for degradation of geomorphological environment and ecosystem of Majuli. Environmental degradation and geomorphological deterioration has posed threat to the biodiversity in the Island. The human made factors which induced threat to biodiversity of Majuli are identified as follows – (I) Construction of Flood Control Dykes and Embankments The braided river Brahmaputra makes an average discharge of 19,830 Cu. Mtrs. While its average annual flood discharge is 51,156 Cu. Mtrs. at Pandu (Goswami, 1991) The occurrence of flood is not once in a year, it occurs 1-7 or more times in a year. Flood has changed the physical landscape and human ecology of the river rein Island Majuli and the whole Brahmaputra Valley. The population of the Island stands at 1,53,312 in 2001. The total geographical area of Majuli was 1,325 Sq.Km. in 1941. Continuous riverbank erosion reduced the area to 640 Sq. Km. in 2008. As per 1991 census out of 244 villages, 35 villages have so far been eroded by the river. Out of 65 number of Satras only 22 Satras are there in Majuli at present and rest have shifted out of Majuli either completely or partially being victimized by flood and erosion. The density of population of the Island according to 1901 census was 24 persons per Sq. Km., which went up to 146 persons in 1991. As per 2001 census The density of population is 364 person per Sq. Km. in Majuli. This figure is higher than that of Assam as a whole (340 person per Sq. Km. in Assam) So, the present environmental condition of Majuli is very very lamentable and woeful. Continuous erosion has reduced geographical area and recurring flood has been affecting the ecological balance as well as biodiversity in Majuli. The increasing population and decreasing total geographical area creates economic instability and ecological imbalance in the historic Island. The gravity of flood can be imagined from the following photograph. Now the important question that arises regarding the environmental degradation in Majuli is that how far flood and erosion have their relevance to the issue of human –induced threat to biodiversity of the Island. Flood and bank erosion of a river are relevant to the issue because they are geomorphic characteristics and can dominate the physical and ecological environment of any geographical region. Flood is a complex phenomena and bears complex meaning. Flood occurs when the capacity of the river channel to carry the discharge is exceeded. The positive departure from mean flow conditions is called flood. The authors have tried to establish the fact that the over bank flooding and river bank erosion in the Brahmaputra Valley in general and Majuli in particular is the result of human made factors. No doubt, the geographical location and geological formation of Majuli is recognized as the most flood and erosion prone area of the Brahmaputra valley. It is also understood from the past history of Assam. Majuli was subjected to the great flood of the rivers of either sides in 1244, 1570, 1737, 1742 and 1781 (Sir Adward Gait, “A history of Assam) But then, the people of the Island habitually Co-existed with nature and enjoyed flood as a seasonal occurrence. This tradition prevailed until the great Earthquake of 1950. The great earthquake of 1950 greatly affected the normal flow of the mighty river Brahmaputra. After the earthquake, spilling of Brahmaputra in the upper-richer of the Island started in large scale and thus immediate measures had to be taken to tackle the devastation by constructing flood control dykes and embankment systems from 1960 onwards. The haphazard construction of PWD roads as a means of development of communication and unscientific flood protection Dykes and Embankments alleged to be the main factors behind the large-Scale devastation in the Island. This man made factor has accelerated the overflood condition and severe river bank erosion in Majuli. During the last sixty years the great flood of 1951, 1962, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2008 destroyed the geomorphological structure and human ecology of the Island. This untold fact has been found to be a serious concerned in the opinion of a reasonable numbers of respondents and the

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
official records of the SDC office and Brahmaputra Board. The table No. 1 presented below shows the responses of the respondents about the problems created by the man-made flood protection measures. Table - 1 Respondents’ view regarding flood and erosion due to construction of Dykes and embankment Mouza Salmora Kamalabari Ahatguri Total Yes (%) 52 (65.00%) 63 (78.75%) 25 (83.33%) 140 (73.69%) No(%) 28 (35.00%) 17 (21.25%) 5 (16.67%) 50 (26.31%) Source : Field Survey The table-1 has shown that 140 (73.69%) of 190 respondents were agreed that haphazard construction of high PWD roads and a series of flood protection dykes and embankments without proper study alleged to be the main cause of occurrence of destructive flood and erosion in Majuli. They think so, because inundation of the Island by the flood and erosion during monsoon did not figure as a serious problem to the Island till the construction of flood control dykes and high PWD roads from 1960 onwards. Majuli has been subjected to flood since time immemorial and its habitant were well used of it. They themselves ready to face the situation which was indispensable. They tried to harvest Ahu rice as possible as starting Ambubashi in the second half of the month of June and got ready with all essential livelihoods for another 3-4 months of flood season. In fact, they enjoyed flood. On the other hand 50 (26.31%) out of 190 respondents considered flood and erosion are not human made factor. Never the less, the investigation reveals that nearly three-fourth of the total respondents believed that man made factor has been accelerated the natural devastation which seriously affected the geomorphology and ecosystem of Majuli. The following photograph indicates the unsafe site of Majuli which created a big threat to biodiversity of the Island. Soil erosion is an extreme form of soil degradation in which natural geomorphological processes are accelerated. The river bank erosion induced by human activities causes the increase in sediment in the major river like Brahmaputra. The rapid rate of growth of environmental problems induced ecological imbalance and environmental degradation which includes       Loss of fertile agricultural soil. Destruction of agricultural hand. Pollution of river water due to increase of suspended sediment load. Increase in the turbidity of water of the rivers and adverse effects on aquatic life. Increase in the magnitude of flood and change in the river courses and Internal displacement of persons. Total (%) 80 80 30 190 (100%)

(ii) Construction of Strong Stone Spars The construction of strong stone spars in the Southern side of Majuli at Hatisal, Nimatighat and Kakilamukh diverted the flow of Brahmaputra towards the lower part of Majuli and accelerated devastation in Ahatguri Mouza. The construction of these stone spars as a flood control / and anti-erosional measure in the opposite side of Majuli is responsible for creating a number of Char-chapori and new river Channels in Brahmaputra river. These stone spars diverted the pungent current of the mighty river Brahmaputra towards lower Majuli which stands as a vital cause of disappearance of the Ahatguri Mouza and established the fact that human made factor accelerated the environmental degradation as well as threat to biodiversity of Majuli. The table 2 presented below show the views of the respondents about the construction of stone spars to restrict the flow of water into the river valley and its effects on human ecology and biodiversity of Majuli.

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
Table-2 Respondents’ view regarding Stone Spars and its effects on Geomorphology of Majuli

Mouza Salmora Kamalabari Ahatguri Total

Effected (%) 66 (82.5%) 72 (90%) 28 (93.33%) 166 (87.37%)

Not effected(%) 14 (17.5%) 8 (10%) 2 (6.67%) 24 (12.63%) Source : Field Survey

Total (%) 80 80 30 190 (100%)

The above table shows that out of total 190 only 24 (12.63%) respondents do not think that construction of strong stone spars in Hatishal, Nimatighat and Kakilamukh affected the geomorphology of Majuli and its biodiversity. On the otherhand 166 (87.37%) respondents which is a remarkable number of the universe thought that these strong stone spars are the most responsible factors for the devastation of geomorphology of Majuli and created threat to its biodiversity. From the above random sampling data collected from three most flood and erosion affected areas of Majuli we can imagine the general consensus and views of the whole population of Majuli regarding the immense effects of the strong stone spars constructed on the Southern side of Majuli which has created a big threat to its existence as well as biodiversity. (iii) Deforestation Deforestation leads to accelerated rate of soil erosion resulting into gully erosion and loss of soil fertility on the one hand and causes severe floods and erosion on the other hand. The increasing population and decreasing land is a major problem in Majuli. People used to clear the forest and vegetation areas for both agricultural as well as habitation purposes. Extensive clearance of forest and grassland exposes the ground surface to the direct impact of raindrops. As a result, the soil surface is pelted heavily by raindrops, resulting in rapid and heavy loss of soils. This process results in the “crusting of soil surface” which reduces the infiltration capacity of the soil, and subsequently poses threats to biodiversity. (iv) Man and Sedimentation The sedimentation process refers to the deposition of sediments carried by running river water. In fact, the sedimentation process is a comprehensive natural geomorphological event. It is apparent that the basic sources of the supply of sediments are erosion and unconsolidated surficial materials. Accelerated erosion caused by human activities create several environmental problems which adversely affected the plant and animal lives. Sifting in river courses, Siltation of river beds and their consequent rise, increase in the frequency and magnitude of floods etc. are the direct results of sedimentation. It may be stated that the Brahmaputra river basin has become ecologically imbalanced because of sedimentation due to accelerated soil erosion caused by human made factors. Deposition of sediments in the river beds causes channel aggradation which results in gradual rise in the river beds of Brahmaputra. Cutting of trees, construction of bridges and embankments, overgrazing and release of unconsolidated surface materials are the most common man made factors for sedimentation in the Brahmaputra Valley. Deposition of coarse sands in the habitation areas and agricultural fields during extreme floods buries fertile alluvial soils and creates a number of infertile wastelands in the entire Brahmaputra Valley. These wastelands are used for animal rearing which ultimately poses threat to human ecology and biodiversity. The on-going deposition of sands on agricultural field and habited areas due to recurrent flood on some specific areas of Majuli is a burning problem. This phenomena of siltation has substantially changed the pattern of human occupancy and degraded the environment. The Table No. 3 shows the scenario of sand deposition in Majuli since 1950-1990.

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24

Table - 3 Mouzawise deposition of sand since 1950-1990. Mouza Ahatguri Salmora Kamalabari Total Affected Area Sq. Km 80.27 13.37 22.56 116.20 Affected Population 1,290 2,000 120 5,740 Source – SDC Office (Majuli) The table shows that within 40 years (1950-90) a total of 116.20 Sq. Km. habited and agricultural fields were destroyed by sand deposition which resulting the homelessness of 5740 people consisting of 19 villages. It has created a strong effect on human ecology. (v) Adoption of new technology in Agriculture Adoption of new technology in Agricultural method is identified as a vital man made factor of echological imbalance and threat to biodiversity in the Island. Increased use of machines like tractors for ploughing, application of fertilizers and chemicals for higher production and installation of water pumps in the agricultural fields have changed the content of organic matter, moisture and thermal conditions of soils, ploughing methods largely affect the magnitude of soil erosion. The ploughed furrows of tractors provide ready path for surface runoff during monsoon. So, frequent use of heavy machines resulted in the cohesion and compactness of soil surface which reduced infiltration of rain water and marked by increased surface runoff which accelerated erosion through rainwash and posed threat to biodiversity. It is very difficult to ascertain the amounts of soil erosion caused by human activities. But, from the physical observation and field study report it is realized that human induced erosion due to adoption of new technology in agriculture is a dominant factor which created threat to biodiversity in Majuli. (vi) Traditional Pottery Industry The Traditional Pottery industry of Kumar community in Salmora Mouza is also considered as Man-made factor which enriched river bank erosion and gradually affected the human ecology and biodiversity of the Island. The Pottery Industry is directed to accelerate the pace of economic development or growth especially the Kumar community. Though such small scale industry is economically viable and desirable yet its effects certainly undermined the biodiversity. The impact of pottery industry on environment is not immediately noticeable because of time lag. The inhabitants of this area used to dig a number of big and deep wells in the river bank of Brahmaputra to bring out the alluvial soil for making of Pottery at a large scale. The diameter of such a hole is about 8-10 ft and the depth is about 20-25 ft. The authors have observed so many deep wells in this area during field study. In monsoon season these deep wells are eroded by heavy rains and accelerate the bank erosion and changing the river course. The effects of this industry bring in slow rate of changes of moderate nature in a few components of the ecosystem and the changes take long time to cross the sensitivity of the system. More over, the indirect impacts are experienced after long time when they become cumulative. It is very difficult to identify and evaluate the ecological effects of pottery industry. But, its effect has changed the over-all natural system and the chain effects sometimes become suicidal for the inhabitants of the locality. The following photograph shows the gravity of the problem. (vii) Mass Extinctions In the beginning Majuli was a pollution-free river Island. Without having any big and heavy industrial set up the Semi-ever green forest and grass lands constituted the typical biological resources in Majuli. The river, Wetlands (Beels, hola, pitoni etc.) different species of wild life, fish, species, domestic as well as migrated birds enhanced the biodiversity in Majuli. Majuli Island was Known as the “Bird’s Heaven”. But in course of time due to environmental degradation a mass extinction Gunaram Nath, “Human induced threats to bio-diversity in North East India with special reference to Majuli” Affected village 6 5 8 19

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
occurred and has changed the situation rapidly. Extinction may differ in scale, scope and number of species involved. Physical environment of the Island has changed due to mass extinction of land or soil caused by flood and erosion. Recovery of soil from this extinction is a mere cry. The geomorphological changed of the island directly affected the variety of living species. Environmental degradation and ecological imbalance have been posing threat to the assortment of different kinds of living organisms. As a result mass extinction of different kinds of wild lifes, fish and birds, especially migratory birds is today’s reality in Majuli. In this study the authors have tried to find out the human induced factors of mass extinction of birds and animals which posing threat to biodiversity in Majuli. Role of Six ‘F’ for mass extinction and its impact on biodiversity Human activities accelerated the lowering of environmental quality and inflicted colossal damage and loss of living organism. It is matter of concerned that often killing of different species of living organism by human being surprisingly affected biodiversity in entire Brahmaputra Valley and specially Majuli. Man used to kill different birds, animals, reptiles and other living species for different purposes and even without any justification. We have attempted to reveal the impact of six ‘Fs’ on biodiversity caused by man. These are --(1) ‘F’ for food : Man kills different animals and birds for food. So, killing of animals and birds to eat has a sizeable impact on biodiversity. (2) ‘F’ for Fur : People kill animals like cats, Rabbits and Sheeps to use their think hair for making cloths or constant use of wearable items. (3) ‘F’ for Feather : Several valuable birds are killed by men for their light, soft and fluffy shaffs for different purposes i.e., people kill birds for feather. (4) ‘F’ for Fats : Human beings kill birds and animals for fats. It is believed that the oily substance extracted from some species of animal tissue and seeds are used to get relief from pain and distress. Particularly in the Brahmaputra Valley as well as in Majuli People kill the rare water animal dolphin or porpoise for its fats to seek relief from rheumatic pain. (5) ‘F’ for Fear : Man kills many animals, birds and reptiles like snakes and wild animals out of fear. They think that all snakes are Poisonous and all wild animals are harmful. People obviously think that snakes and wild animals attack or bide human beings as soon as they appear. So, whenever or wherever people see a snake or any wild animal, they try to kill them. This type of ruthless killings increase threat to biodiversity. (6) ‘F’ for Fun : Many people used to kill animals, birds and fishes for the sake of fun. To them killing of animals, birds and reptiles is fun or a game. Some people consider hunting as a hobby. But they unable to realize the fact that hunting may plunder the biodiversity in a large scale. Perhaps, this is why these people do not dare to kill very useful animals ridiculously. The role of six ‘F’ on biodiversity is a self explanatory accomplishment of the authors. We believe that human induced factors like mass killing of living organisms is mostly responsible for the mass extinction of different living species in the entire Brahmaputra valley and Majuli. Therefore the authors intended to establish the fact by asking a question to the respondents “whether killing of different living species by man is a factor of mass extinction and does it effect the biodiversity?” The responses of the respondents with regard to this question has been shown in the following table. Table No. 4 Response of respondent regarding mass extinction and its effect on biodiversity in Majuli Mouza Salmora Kamalabari Ahatguri Yes (%) 67 (83.75%) 69 (86.25%) 24 (80.00%) No(%) 13 (16.25%) 11 (13.75%) 6 (20.00%) Total (%) 80 80 30

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
Total 160 (84.21%) 30 (15.79%) Source – Field Survey The study reveals that 84.21% respondents of the Universe believe that mass extinction of living species and its effects on biodiversity is a man-made factor. While only 15.79% answered negative or in a feeling of bewilderment. The table presented above shows that 83.75% respondents in Salmora Mouza, 86.25% of Kamalabari and 80% respondents of Ahatguri Mouza believed that killing of animals and birds, and catching of fishes in a large scale by violating all natural lows as well as governmental regulations are the vital causes of mass extinction of living species which greatly affected biodiversity in Majuli. On the other hand only 16.25% in Salmora, 13.75% in Kamalabari and 20% respondents in Ahatguri Mouza respectively answered either negatively or showed a feeling of he wilderment. Therefore, the authors’ assumption or so-called hypothesis seems to be correct. 7. Findings It is very difficult to identify distinct bunch mark which has substantial influence in the ecological set up and biodiversity in the Brahmaputra Valley in general and Majuli in particular. Yet, the authors have sincerely tried to unfold some major human made factors which greatly influenced ecology and biodiversity of Majuli. Hence, the findings of the study are as follows – (1) The degradation of geomorphology and human ecology of Majuli started after the great Earthquake of 1950. (2) The great earthquake of 1950 has changed the course of the river Brahmaputra and has reevaluated the natural geomorphological set up of Majuli. (3) The flood and erosion problem created a threat to Majuli as a consequence of the construction of unscientific flood protection dykes and embankment systems from 1960 onwards. (4) The clearance of large forest and grassland areas for agricultural and habitation purposes has devastated the ecosystems of the Island. The use of forest resources in commercial activities is found to be a serious matter of concerned in terms of biodiversity. (5) The adoption of modern technology in agricultural sphere is also found to be a major human induced factor affecting biodiversity in the Island. (6) Construction of strong stone spars at Hatisal, Nimatighat and Kakilamukh is recognized as a remaskable man-made factor which threats to the existence of Majuli. These stone spars may be one of the vital cause of extinction of Majuli Island. Obviously it poses threat to Biodiversity in Majuli. (7) Sedimentation and siltation are found to be the responsible factors for formation of Char and Chapories. A series of manmade activities like construction of dams and bridges, deforestation, embankment systems etc. are identified as accelerating agencies of Siltation and sedimentation. (8) The traditional pottery industry of Kumar community found to be an accelerating human induced factor of river bank erosion which also posing threat to human ecology. (9) The habitation practice of the tribals, specially the Missing people also affected the biodiversity of the Island. Because, traditionally they used to settle in very rich ecological areas. They have occupied very productive lowlying and ecologically very rich reverine and wetland areas. So, this habitation system itself creates threat to biodiversity. (10) Mass extinction of different living species is found to be a genuine man made factor which posing threat to biodiversity. The role of six ‘F’ on biodiversity is an unique self accomplishment of the authors. (11) The increasing population and decreasing total geographical area is a matter of serious concerned interms of biodiversity in the Island. (12) The most important findings to be noted here that the Co-ordination among governmental and NGO’s are very very lamentable in biodiversity Conservation. Gunaram Nath, “Human induced threats to bio-diversity in North East India with special reference to Majuli” 190 (100%)

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
8. Recommendations (i) The restoration of biodiversity in Majuli is necessary to maintain geomorphological structure and environmental ecology of the Island. Therefore, all existing plans and programmes to protect Majuli should be re-structured and Scientifically acceptable and geographically viable measures and techniques should be adopted. (ii) No human civilization can survived by violating natural law and environmental behaviour. This is why, human being can never controlled nature and environment. Any attempt to control nature must have its adverse reaction. As a result people have to face a lot of misfortunes created by nature. Therefore, our suggestion is that the flood protection dykes and embankments including high PWD roads should be removed or should be restructured to suit the geological formation of the Island, which will enrich biodiversity in Majuli. (iii) Deforestation and clearance of grassland is one of the vital man-made factors posing threat to biodiversity in Majuli. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake proper planned agenda of social forestry to maintain ecological balance in the Island. (iv) Thousands of families have been internally displaced in Majuli due to river bank erosion since the last few decades. The rehabilitation process is working very slow. As a result hundreds of families are still living on dykes and PWD Roads. They have no livelihood besides agricultural labour or wage labour. Unfortunately, these people do not have scope for selfemployment. Subsequently, they have been compelled to do some unpleasant activities like cutting of trees, catching of fishes and killing of birds and animals unlawfully for earning livelihood or survival, which has accelerated mass extinction of living organisms. Therefore, government should make quick arrangement for rehabilitation of internally displaced persons from Majuli to maintain the ecological balance in the Island. (v) Government should take necessary measures for sustainable management of the traditional pottery industry of the Kumar community in Salmora Mouza. These people have lost all means of livelihood including land and property in flood and erosion. They are engaged in making pottery and selling them locally. But gradually it has lost its earlier valued commercial status due to lack of profitable market. So, government should make arrangement either to rehabilitate these people outside Majuli or provide adequate raw materials for making pottery inorder to stop the eroding river bank. (vi) Co-ordination among various departments like National Hazard and Disaster Management, National as well as State Biodiversity Conservation Missions, Department of soil conservation, National and Social Forestry, Central Water Commission, Brahmaputra Board, Char and Chapori Development authority etc. is required for better protection and management of human ecology and biodiversity in Majuli. (vii) All the people of Majuli irrespective of caste, creed, religion, age and sex should be aware of the laws and regulations made by the government for maintaining human ecology and biodiversity in the Island. Lack of awareness and indifference are identified as major setbacks for management of biodiversity in Majuli. So, a strong desire for biodiversity conservation is to be developed among the native people so that no foreign elements can inflict threat to human ecology and biodiversity in the Island. (viii) The role of NGO’s cannot be considered as negligible in terms of biodiversity conservation. So many NGOs have been undertaking a lot of programmes and a series of agendas for restoring a good relationship between man and environment. The people of Majuli are generally environment – friendly and nature lovers. If these NGOs work honestly and Co-ordinate with each other than it will be possible to restore human ecology and biodiversity in the world’s biggest river Island Majuli. (ix) The availability of biodiversity information among the people of the Island is not uniform. A major setback is the absence of a centre for biodiversity information. Therefore, it is recommended that the establishment of a biodiversity information centre in Majuli must take place without further valley. (x) Last but not the least, attempts should be made to identify priority sites and endangered species on the basis of their biological and Socio-economic value, and to develop strategies for their conservation.

Gunaram Nath, “Human induced threats to bio-diversity in North East India with special reference to Majuli”

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International Journal for Basic Sciences and Social Sciences (IJBSS) ISSN: 2319-2968 Available Online at www.rfbss.org Vol.1, Issue 1, May-2012 Page:15-24
9. Conclusion Ecosystems are composed of living species and provide us with life’s essential requirements. Dismantling them from their ecosystem creates many problems and stands as a big threat to biodiversity. Oxygen to breaths medicines to support body’s own immunity food and drinkable water to servive is a must. The great diversity of living things and their underlying features constitute nature. But human beings themselves create an anti-environment which becomes a cause of overall degradation of living organisms over many generations, resulting in a threat to biodiversity. It is therefore, high time we evolved sustainable strategy and action plans befitting the geomorphological atmosphere of the world’s biggest river Island Majuli. Recurring flood and erosion, rapid growth of population and human-induced factors for survival have created a host of complicated problems to the biodiversity which demand immediate attention of the government and the people at large for sustainable management of biodiversity in the Island. Sustainability simply implies peaceful survival of nature and life, and advocates survival of human ecology and environmentally acceptable mode of biodiversity conservation.

REFERENCES [1] Baveja, J.D., “New Horizons of the North East Western, Book Depot. Guwahati, PP : 134-136, 1982. [2] Chatterjee, S. “Global ‘Hot Spot’ of Biodiversity” Current Science, Vol. 68, 1995. [3] Hedge, S.N., “Conservation of North East Flora, Arunachal Forest News, Vol. 18, 2000. [4] Sing, S. , Environmental Geography, Prayag Pustak Bhawan, Allahabad, 2004. [5] Forest Survey of India report 2001 and 2003, Dehradun, 1999. [6] Daya, P. , A text book of Geomorphology, 1990. [7] Deka, S (Ed) North East India : Geo-Environmental Issues, EBH Publishers, (India) 2008. [8] Dr. Gogoi, B (Ed), “Flood Hazard in Assam and their impacts on Human occupance,” 2008. [9] Ex. Engineer, “Problem of Majuli Island”, Oct, 1999. E&D Division [10] Gait, Edward, A History of Assam. [11] Majuli Surksha, The problem of Flood & Soil Erosion in Samity, Guwahati. Majuli Island (Seminar Paper). [12] Nath, B.K., Flood and Erosion Hazards of Majuli and its Impact on Human Ecology. (M.Phil. Thesis) 2009. [13] Nath, G.R. , Internal Displacement due to Natural Factors in North-East India with special reference to Majuli, A Case Study (Seminar Paper) 2012. [14] Thomas, W.L., Man’s Role in changing the face of the Earth, 1956. [15] Govt. of India, Census 2001. [16] website, www.biodiversityhotspots.org AUTHORS Gunaram Nath is an Associate professor in the department of Political Science, N. N. Saikia College, Titabor - 785630, Assam, India. He is registered for Ph.d with CMJ University, Shillong, Meghalaya, India.

Gunaram Nath, “Human induced threats to bio-diversity in North East India with special reference to Majuli”

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