About Assam

Assam is a state in northeastern India, situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak Rivervalleys. Assam covers an area of 78,438 km2(30,285 sq mi). The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to the north; Nagaland and Manipur to the east; Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Bangladesh to the south; and West Bengal to the west via the Siliguri Corridor, a 22 kilometres (14 mi) strip of land that connects the state to the rest of India.


A significant geographical aspect of Assam is that it contains three of six physiographic divisions of India – The Northern Himalayas (Eastern Hills), The Northern Plains (Brahmaputra plain) and Deccan Plateau (Karbi Anglong). As the Brahmaputra flows in Assam the climate here is cold and there is rainfall most of the month. Geomorphic studies conclude that the Brahmaputra, the life-line of Assam, is an antecedent river older than the Himalayas. The river with steep gorges and rapids in Arunachal Pradesh entering Assam, becomes a braided river (at times 10 mi/16 km wide) and with tributaries, creates a flood plain (Brahmaputra Valley: 50–60 mi/80–100 km wide, 600 mi/1000 km long). The hills of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar and those in and close to Guwahati (also Khasi-Garo Hills) now eroded and dissected are originally parts of the South Indian Plateau system.In the south, the Barak originating in the Barail Range (Assam-Nagaland border) flows through the Cachar district with a 25–30 miles (40–50 km) wide valley and enters Bangladesh with the name Surma River.

Urban centres include Guwahati, one of the 100 fastest growing cities in the world.Guwahati is the gateway to the North-East India. Silchar, (in the Barak valley) the 2nd most populous city in Assam and an important centre of business. Other large cities include Dibrugarh, an oil and natural gas industry centre, etc.

Climate

With the tropical monsoon climate, Assam is temperate (summer max. at 95–100 °F or 35–38 °C and winter min. at 43–46 °F or 6–8 °C) and experiences heavy rainfall and high humidity. The climate is characterised by heavy monsoon downpours reducing summer temperatures and affecting foggy nights and mornings in winters, frequent during the afternoons. Spring (March–April) and autumn (September–October) are usually pleasant with moderate rainfall and temperature. Assam’s agriculture usually depends on the south-west monsoon rains.

Fauna

Assam is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world and consists of tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards and numerous wetland ecosystems; Many are now protected as national parks and reserved forests.

Assam has wildlife sanctuaries, the most prominent of which are two UNESCO World Heritage sites- the Kaziranga National Park, on the bank of the Brahmaputra River, and the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, near the border with Bhutan. The Kaziranga is a refuge for the fast-disappearing Indian one-horned rhinoceros. The state is the last refuge for numerous other endangered and threatened species including the white-winged wood duck or deohanh, Bengal florican, black-breasted parrotbill, red-headed vulture, white-rumped vulture, greater adjutant, Jerdon’s babbler, rufous-necked hornbill, Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, pygmy hog, gaur, wild water buffalo, Indian hog deer, hoolock gibbon, golden langur, capped langur, barasingha, Ganges river dolphin, Barca snakehead, Ganges shark, Burmese python, etc.


Culture

Various ethno-cultural groups in Assam make different types of cotton garments with unique embroidery designs and wonderful colour combinations.Moreover, Assam possesses unique crafts of toy and mask making mostly concentrated in the Vaishnav Monasteries, pottery and terracotta work in western Assam districts and wood craft, iron craft, jewellery, etc. in many places across the region

Economy

Assam’s economy is based on agriculture and oil. Assam produces more than half of India’s tea. The Assam-Arakan basin holds about a quarter of the country’s oil reserves, and produces about 12% of its total petroleum. According to the recent estimates, Assam’s per capita GDP is ₹6,157 at constant prices (1993–94) and ₹10,198 at current prices; almost 40% lower than that in India. According to the recent estimates, per capita income in Assam has reached ₹6756 (1993–94 constant prices) in 2004–05, which is still much lower than India’s.

Macro-economy

The economy of Assam today represents a unique juxtaposition of backwardness amidst plenty. Despite its rich natural resources, and supplying of up to 25% of India’s petroleum needs, Assam’s growth rate has not kept pace with that of India; the difference has increased rapidly since the 1970s. The Indian economy grew at 6% per annum over the period of 1981 to 2000; the growth rate of Assam was only 3.3%.In the Sixth Plan period, Assam experienced a negative growth rate of 3.78% when India’s was positive at 6%. In the post-liberalised era (after 1991), the difference widened further.

According to recent analysis, Assam’s economy is showing signs of improvement. In 2001–02, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 4.5%, falling to 3.4% in the next financial year. During 2003–04 and 2004–05, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 5.5% and 5.3% respectively. The advanced estimates placed the growth rate for 2005–06 at above 6%. Assam’s GDP in 2004 is estimated at $13 billion in current prices. Sectoral analysis again exhibits a dismal picture. The average annual growth rate of agriculture, which was 2.6% per annum over the 1980s, has fallen to 1.6% in the 1990s. The manufacturing sector showed some improvement in the 1990s with a growth rate of 3.4% per annum than 2.4% in the 1980s. For the past five decades, the tertiary sector has registered the highest growth rates of the other sectors, which even has slowed down in the 1990s than in the 1980s.

Employment

Unemployment is one of the major problems in Assam. This problem can be attributed to overpopulation and a faulty education system. Every year, large numbers of students obtain higher academic degrees but because of non-availability of proportional vacancies, most of these students remain unemployed. A number of employers hire over-qualified or efficient, but under-certified, candidates, or candidates with narrowly defined qualifications. The problem is exacerbated by the growth in the number of technical institutes in Assam which increases the unemployed community of the State. Many job-seekers are eligible for jobs in sectors like railways and Oil India but do not get these jobs because of the appointment of candidates from outside of Assam to these posts. The reluctance on the part of the departments concerned to advertise vacancies in vernacular language has also made matters worse for local unemployed youths particularly for the job-seekers of Grade C and D vacancies.

Reduction of the unemployed has been threatened by illegal immigration from Bangladesh. This has increased the workforce without a commensurate increase in jobs. Immigrants compete with local workers for jobs at lower wages, particularly in construction, domestics, Rickshaw-pullers, and vegetable sellers. The government has been identifying (via NRC) and deporting illegal immigrants. Continued immigration is exceeding deportation.

Agriculture

In Assam among all the productive sectors, agriculture makes the highest contribution to its domestic sectors, accounting for more than a third of Assam’s income and employs 69% of workforce. Assam’s biggest contribution to the world is Assam tea. It has its own variety, Camellia sinensis var. assamica. The state produces rice, rapeseed, mustard seed, jute, potato, sweet potato, banana, papaya, areca nut, sugarcane and turmeric.

Assam’s agriculture is yet to experience modernisation in a real sense. With implications for food security, per capita food grain production has declined in the past five decades. Productivity has increased marginally, but is still low compared to highly productive regions. For instance, the yield of rice (a staple food of Assam) was just 1531 kg per hectare against India’s 1927 kg per hectare in 2000–01(which itself is much lower than Egypt’s 9283, US’s 7279, South Korea’s 6838, Japan’s 6635 and China’s 6131 kg per hectare in 2001). On the other hand, after having strong domestic demand, and with 1.5 million hectares of inland water bodies, numerous rivers and 165 varieties of fishes, fishing is still in its traditional form and production is not self-sufficient.

Floods in Assam greatly affect the farmers and the families dependent on agriculture because of large-scale damage of agricultural fields and crops by flood water. Every year, flooding from the Brahmaputra and other rivers deluges places in Assam. The water levels of the rivers rise because of rainfall resulting in the rivers overflowing their banks and engulfing nearby areas. Apart from houses and livestock being washed away by flood water, bridges, railway tracks and roads are also damaged by the calamity, which causes communication breakdown in many places. Fatalities are also caused by the natural disaster in many places of the state.

Flooding

Every year, flooding from the Brahmaputra and other rivers such as Barak River etc. deluges places in Assam. The water levels of the rivers rise because of rainfall resulting in the rivers overflowing their banks and engulfing nearby areas. Apart from houses and livestock being washed away by flood water, bridges, railway tracks, and roads are also damaged by the calamity, which causes communication breakdown in many places. Fatalities are also caused by the natural disaster in many places of the State.

Brahmaputra floods:

In the rainy season every year, the Brahmaputra and other rivers overflow their banks and flood adjacent land. Flood waters wash away property including houses and livestock. Damage to crops and fields harms the agricultural sector. Bridges, railway tracks, and roads are also damaged, harming transportation and communication, and in some years requiring food to be air-dropped to isolated towns. Some deaths are attributed to the floods.

History

Among other dynasties, the Dimasa, another Bodo-Kachari dynasty, (13th century-1854 AD) ruled from Dikhow River to central and southern Assam and had their capital at Dimapur. With the expansion of Ahom kingdom, by the early 17th century, the Chutiya areas were annexed and since c. 1536 AD the Kacharis remained only in Cachar and North Cachar, and more as an Ahom ally than a competing force.

Despite numerous invasions, mostly by the Muslim rulers, no western power ruled Assam until the arrival of the British. Though the Mughals made seventeen attempts to invade, they were never successful. The most successful invader Mir Jumla, a governor of Aurangzeb, briefly occupied Garhgaon (c. 1662–63 AD), the then capital, but found it difficult to prevent guerrilla attacks on his forces, forcing them to leave. The decisive victory of the Assamese led by general Lachit Borphukan on the Mughals, then under command of Raja Ram Singha, at Saraighatin 1671 almost ended Mughal ambitions in this region. The Mughals were finally expelled from Lower Assam during the reign of Gadadhar Singha in 1682 AD.

The discovery
of Camellia sinensis in 1834 in Assam was followed by testing in
1836–37 in London. The British allowed companies to rent land from 1839
onwards. Thereafter tea plantations mushroomed in Eastern Assam, where the
soil and the climate were most suitable. Problems with the imported Han Chinese
labourers from China and hostility from native Assamese resulted in the
migration of forced labourers from central and eastern parts of India. After
initial trial and error with planting the Chinese and the Assamese-Chinese
hybrid varieties, the planters later accepted the local Camellia
assamica as the most suitable variety for Assam. By the 1850s, the
industry started seeing some profits. The industry saw initial growth, when in
1861, investors were allowed to own land in Assam and it saw substantial progress
with the invention of new technologies and machinery for preparing processed
tea during the 1870s.

Despite the commercial
success, tea labourers continued to be exploited, working and living under
poor conditions. Fearful of greater government interference, the tea
growers formed the Indian Tea Associationin 1888 to lobby to retain the
status quo. The organisation was successful in this, but even after India’s
independence, conditions of the labourers have improved very little.

In the later part of the
18th century, religious tensions and atrocities by the nobles led to
the Moamoria rebellion (1769–1805), resulting in tremendous
casualties of lives and property. The rebellion was suppressed but the kingdom
was severely weakened by the civil war. Political rivalry between Prime
Minister Purnananda Burhagohain and Badan Chandra Borphukan,
the Ahom Viceroy of Western Assam, led to an invitation to the
Burmese by the latter, in turn leading to three successive Burmese invasions
of Assam. The reigning monarch Chandrakanta Singha tried to check the
Burmese invaders but he was defeated after fierce resistance. And Ahom occupied
Assam was captured by the Burmese

A reign of terror was
unleashed by the Burmese on the Assamese people, who fled to neighbouring
kingdoms and British-ruled Bengal. The Burmese reached the East
India Company’s borders, and the First Anglo-Burmese Warensued in 1824.
The war ended under the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826, with the Company
taking control of Western Assam and installing Purandar Singha as
king of Upper Assam in 1833. The arrangement lasted till 1838 and thereafter
the British gradually annexed the entire region. Thereafter the court language
and medium of instruction in educational institutions of Assam was
made Bengali, instead of Assamese. Starting from 1836 until 1873, this
imposition of a foreign tongue created greater unemployment among
the People of Assam and Assamese literature naturally suffered in its
growth.

Initially, Assam was made a part of
the Bengal Presidency, then in 1906 it was made a part of Eastern
Bengal and Assamprovince, and in 1912 it was reconstituted into a chief
commissioners’ province. In 1913, a legislative council and, in 1937, the Assam
Legislative Assembly, were formed in Shillong, the erstwhile capital of the
region. The British tea planters imported labour from central India adding to
the demographic canvas.

The Assam territory was first separated from
Bengal in 1874 as the ‘North-East Frontier’ non-regulation province, also
known as the Assam Chief-Commissionership. It was incorporated into the new
province of Eastern Bengal and Assam in 1905 after the partition of
Bengal (1905–1911) and re-established in 1912 as Assam Province .

After a few initially unsuccessful attempts to
gain independence for Assam during the 1850s, anti-colonial Assamese joined and
actively supported the Indian National Congress against the British
from the early 20th century, with Gopinath Bordoloiemerging as the preeminent
nationalist leader in the Assam Congress. Bordoloi’s major political rival
in this time was Sir Saidullah, who was representing the Muslim League,
and had the backing of the influential Muslim cleric Maulana
Bhasani.The Assam Postage Circle was established by 1873 under the
headship of the Deputy Post Master General.

At the turn of the 20th century, British India
consisted of eight provinces that were administered either by a governor or a
lieutenant-governor. Assam Province was one among the major eight provinces of
British India. The table below shows the major original provinces during
British India covering the Assam Province under the Administrative Office of
the Chief Commissioner.With the partition of India in 1947, Assam became a
constituent state of India. The Sylhet District of Assam (excluding
the Karimganj subdivision) was given up to East Pakistan, which later became
Bangladesh.

Modern History

The government of India, which has the
unilateral powers to change the borders of a state, divided Assam into several
states beginning in 1970 within the borders of what was then Assam. In 1963,
the Naga Hills district became the 16th state of India under the name
of Nagaland. Part of Tuensang was added to Nagaland. In 1970, in response
to the demands of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo people of the Meghalaya
Plateau, the districts containing the Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills, and Garo
Hills were formed into an autonomous state within Assam; in 1972 this became a
separate state under the name of Meghalaya. In 1972, Arunachal Pradesh
(the North East Frontier Agency) and Mizoram (from the Mizo Hills in the
south) were separated from Assam as union territories; both became states in
1986.

Since the restructuring of Assam after
independence, communal tensions and violence remain. Separatist
groups began forming along ethnic lines, and demands for autonomy and
sovereignty grew, resulting in the fragmentation of Assam. In 1961, the
government of Assam passed legislation making use of the Assamese languagecompulsory.
It was withdrawn later under pressure from Bengali speaking people in
Cachar. In the 1980s the Brahmaputra valley saw a six-year Assam
Agitation triggered by the discovery of a sudden rise in registered voters
on electoral rolls. It tried to force the government to identify and deport
foreigners illegally migrating from neighbouring Bangladesh and to
provide constitutional, legislative, administrative and cultural safeguards for
the indigenous Assamese majority, which they felt was under threat due to the
increase of migration from Bangladesh. The agitation ended after an accord
(Assam Accord 1985) between its leaders and the Union Government, which
remained unimplemented, causing simmering discontent.

The post 1970s experienced the growth of armed
separatist groups such as the United Liberation Front of
Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland(NDFB).
In November 1990, the Government of India deployed the Indian
army, after which low-intensity military conflicts and political homicides have
been continuing for more than a decade. In recent times, ethnically based
militant groups have grown. Panchayati Raj Institutions have been
applied in Assam, after agitation of the communities due to the sluggish
rate of development and general apathy of successive state governments towards
Indigenous Assamese communities.

Education

Assam schools are run by the Indian government,
government of Assam or by private organisations. Medium of instruction is mainly
in Assamese, English or Bengali. Most of the schools follow the state’s
examination board which is called the Secondary Education Board of Assam.
Almost all private schools follow the Central Board for Secondary
Education (CBSE), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education(ICSE)
and Indian School Certificate (ISC) syllabuses.

Assamese language is the main medium in
educational institutions but Bengali languageis also taught as a
major Indian language. In Guwahati and Digboi, many Jr. basic schools and Jr.
high schools are Nepali linguistic and all the teachers
are Nepali. Nepali is included by Assam State Secondary
Board, Assam Higher Secondary Education Council and Gauhati
University in their HSLC, higher secondary and graduation level
respectively. In some junior basic and higher secondary schools and colleges,
Nepali teachers and lecturers are appointed.The capital, Dispur, contains
institutions of higher education for students of the north-eastern
region. Cotton College, Guwahati, dates back to the 19th century. Assam
has several institutions for tertiary education and research.

Industry

Assam’s proximity to some neighbouring countries
such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, benefits its trade. The major Border
checkpoints through which border trade flows to Bangladesh from Assam
are : Sutarkandi (Karimganj), Dhubri, Mankachar (Dhubri) and Golokanj. To
facilitate border trade with Bangladesh, Border Trade Centres have been
developed at Sutarkandi and Mankachar. It has been proposed in the 11th
five-year plan to set up two more Border Trade Center, one
at Ledoconnecting China and other at Darrangconnecting Bhutan. There
are several Land Custom Stations (LCS) in the state bordering Bangladesh and
Bhutan to facilitate border trade.

The government of India has identified some
thrust areas for industrial development of Assam:

  • Petroleum and natural gas-based industries
  • Industries based on locally available minerals
  • Processing of plantation crops
  • Food processing industries
  • Agri-Horticulture products
  • Agri-Horticulture products
  • Herbal products
  • Biotech products
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Chemical and plastic-based industries
  • Export oriented industries
  • Electronic and IT base industries including services
    sector
  • Paper making industries
  • Textiles and sericulture
  • Engineering industries
  • Cane and bamboo-based industries

Although, the region in the eastern periphery of
India is landlocked and is linked to the mainland by the narrow Siliguri
Corridor (or the Chicken’s Neck) improved transport infrastructure in all
the three modes – rail, road and air – and developing urban infrastructure in
the cities and towns of Assam are giving a boost to the entire industrial
scene. The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at
Guwahati, with international flights to Bangkok and Singapore offered
by Druk Air of Bhutan, was the 12th busiest airport of India in
2012.The cities of Guwahati in the west and Dibrugarh in the
east with good rail, road and air connectivity are the two important nerve
centres of Assam, to be selected by Asian Development Bank for providing
$200 million for improvement of urban infrastructure.

Assam is a producer of crude oil and
it accounts for about 15% of India’s crude output, exploited by the Assam
Oil Company Ltd., and natural gas in India and is the second place in the
world (after Titusville in the United States) where petroleum was
discovered. Asia’s first successful mechanically drilled oil well was drilled
in Makum way back in 1867. Most of the oilfields are located in the
Eastern Assam region. Assam has four oil refineries in Digboi (Asia’s
first and world’s second refinery),
Guwahati, Bongaigaon and Numaligarh and with a total
capacity of 7 million metric tonnes (7.7 million short tons) per
annum. Asia’s first refinery was set up at Digboi and discoverer of Digboi
oilfield was the Assam Railways & Trading Company Limited (AR&T Co.
Ltd.), a registered company of London in 1881. One of the biggest public
sector oil company of the country Oil India Ltd. has its plant and
headquarters at Duliajan.

There are several other industries, including a
chemical fertiliser plant
at Namrup, petrochemical industries in Namrup and Bongaigaon,
paper mills at Jagiroad, Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd. Township
Area Panchgram and Jogighopa, sugar mills in Barua Bamun Gaon, Chargola,
Kampur, cement plants in Bokajan and Badarpur, and a cosmetics plant
of Hindustan Unilever(HUL) at Doom Dooma. Moreover, there are other
industries such as jute mill, textile and yarn mills, Assam silk, and silk
mills. Many of these industries are facing losses and closure due to lack of
infrastructure and improper management practices.

Population

The total population of Assam was
26.66 million with 4.91 million households in 2001. Higher
population concentration was recorded in the districts of Kamrup, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Dhubri, Darrang,
and Cachar. Assam’s population was estimated at 28.67 million in 2006
and at 30.57 million in 2011 and is expected to reach 34.18  million
by 2021 and 35.60 million by 2026.

As per the 2011 census, the total population of
Assam was 31,169,272. The total population of the state has increased from
26,638,407 to 31,169,272 in the last ten years with a growth rate of 16.93%.

Of the 33 districts, eight districts registered
a rise in the decadal population growth rate. Religious minority-dominated
districts like Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon,
and Hailakandi, recorded growth rates ranging from 20 per cent to 24 per
cent during the last decade. Eastern Assamese districts, including Sivasagar and Jorhat,
registered around 9 per cent population growth. These districts do not have any
international border.

In 2011, the literacy rate in the
state was 73.18%. The male literacy rate was 78.81% and the female literacy
rate was 67.27%. In 2001, the census had recorded literacy in Assam at 63.3%
with male literacy at 71.3% and female at 54.6%. The urbanisation rate was
recorded at 12.9%.

The growth of population in Assam has increased
since the middle decades of the 20th century. The population grew from
3.29 million in 1901 to 6.70 million in 1941. It increased to
14.63 million in 1971 and 22.41 million in 1991. The growth in
the western and southern districts was high primarily due to the influx of
people from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

The People of India project has studied 115 of
the ethnic groups in Assam. 79 (69%) identify themselves regionally, 22 (19%)
locally, and 3 trans-nationally. The earliest settlers
were Austric, Dravidian followed
by Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan, and Tai–Kadaipeople. Forty-five
languages are spoken by different communities, including three major language
families: Austroasiatic , Sino-Tibetan  and Indo-European .
Three of the spoken languages do not fall in these families. There is a high
degree of bilingualism.

Languages

Assamese is the official language of the
state. Additional official languages
include Bengali and Bodo languages. Bodo in Bodoland
Territorial Council and Bengali in the three districts of Barak
Valley where Sylheti is most commonly spoken.

According to the language census of 2011 in
Assam, out of a total population of around 31 million, Assamese is spoken by
around half that number: 15 million. Although the number of speakers is
growing, the percentage of Assam’s population who have it as a mother tongue
has fallen slightly. The various Bengali dialects and closely related languages
are spoken by around 9 million people in Assam, and the portion of the
population that speaks these languages has grown slightly. Hindi is the third
most-spoken language.

Tourism

Roughly shaped like a bird with wings stretching
along the length of the Brahmaputra river, Assam is the
main and oldest state in the North-East Region of India and serves as
the gateway to the rest of the Seven Sister States. The land of red river
and blue hills, Assam comprises three main geographical areas:
the Brahmaputra Valleywhich constitutes the expansive wingspan, the Barak
Valley extending like a tail, and the intervening Karbi Plateau and North
Cachar Hills. Assam shares its border with Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh,
Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and West Bengal; and there are National
Highways leading to their capital cities. It also shares international borders
with Bhutan and Bangladesh and is very close to Myanmar. In ancient times Assam
was known as Pragjyotisha or Pragjyotishpura, and Kamarupa.

Tourist Hotspots

For the purposes of tourism there are wildlife
reserves like the Kaziranga National Park, Manas National
Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Nameri National
Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park etc. It has a rich cultural
heritage going back to the Ahom Dynasty which governed the region for
many centuries before the British occupation.

Notable tourist destinations are listed below:

Guwahati

One of the key urban centres of Assam and the
biggest city in North-East India, this serves as the major gateway to the
whole region. The major tourist spots of Guwahati are Kamakhya Temple,
River Cruise on the river Brahmaputra, Shankardev
Kalakshetra, Umananda Temple, Assam State Zoo, Shilpagram
etc. Chandubi Lake, Sonapur, Madan Kamdev, Chandrapur
and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary are other famous spots outskirts the
city .While visiting Madan Kamdev Tourists also visit the ancient
temple Gopeswar Mandir situated in the village Deuduar.

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is a national
park in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglongand Nagaon
districts of the state of Assam, India. The sanctuary, which hosts
two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World
Heritage Site. According to the census held in March 2018 which was
jointly conducted by the Forest Department of the Government of Assam and some
recognized wildlife NGOs, the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park is
2,413. It comprises 1,641 adult rhinos (642 males, 793 females, 206 unsexed);
387 sub-adults (116 males, 149 females, 122 unsexed); and 385 calves. In
2015, the rhino population stood at 2401. Kaziranga is home to the highest
density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and
was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006 (now the highest tiger density
is in Orang National Park, Assam) . The park is home to large breeding
populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp
deer. Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird
Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal
species. When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has
achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Located on the edge of
the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high
species diversity and visibility.

Kaziranga is a vast expanse of
tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist
broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including
the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of
water. Kaziranga has been the theme of several books, songs, and documentaries.
The park celebrated its centennial in 2005 after its establishment in 1905 as
a reserve forest.

The history of Kaziranga as a protected area can
be traced back to 1904, when Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston,
the wife of the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, visited
the area. After failing to see a single rhinoceros, for which the area was
renowned, she persuaded her husband to take urgent measures to protect the
dwindling species which he did by initiating planning for their
protection. On 1 June 1905, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was
created with an area of 232 km2(90 sq mi).

Over the next three years, the park area was
extended by 152 km2 (59 sq mi), to the banks of
the Brahmaputra River. In 1908, Kaziranga was designated a “Reserve
Forest”.In 1916, it was redesignated the “Kaziranga Game Sanctuary” and
remained so till 1938, when hunting was prohibited and visitors were permitted
to enter the park.The Kaziranga Game Sanctuary was renamed the “Kaziranga
Wildlife Sanctuary” in 1950 by P. D. Stracey, the forest conservationist, in
order to rid the name of hunting connotations.

In 1954, the government of Assam passed the
Assam (Rhinoceros) Bill, which imposed heavy penalties for rhinoceros
poaching. Fourteen years later, in 1968, the state government passed the
Assam National Park Act of 1968, declaring Kaziranga a designated national
park. The 430 km2 (166 sq mi) park was given official
status by the central government on 11 February 1974. In 1985, Kaziranga was
declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its unique
natural environment.

Kaziranga has been the target of several natural
and man-made calamities in recent decades. Floods caused by the overflow of the
river Brahmaputra, leading to significant losses of animal
life. Encroachment by people along the periphery has also led to a
diminished forest cover and a loss of habitat. An ongoing separatist
movement in Assam led by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA)
has crippled the economy of the region, but Kaziranga has remained
unaffected by the movement; indeed, instances of rebels from the United
Liberation Front of Assam protecting the animals and, in extreme cases, killing
poachers, have been reported since the 1980s.

Manas National Park

Manas National Park or Manas Wildlife
Sanctuary is a national park, UNESCO Natural World
Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and
a biosphere reserve in Assam, India. Located in
the Himalayanfoothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas
National Park in Bhutan. The park is known for its rare and
endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid
hare, golden langur and pygmy hog. Manas is famous for its
population of the wild water buffalo.

The Manas National Park was declared a sanctuary
on 1 October 1928 with an area of 360 km2. Manas bio reserve was created in
1973. Prior to the declaration of the sanctuary, it was a reserved forest
called Manas R.F. and North Kamrup R.F. It was used by the Cooch Behar royal
family and Raja of Gauripur as a hunting reserve. In 1951 and 1955 the area was
increased to 391 km2. It was declared a World Heritage site in December 1985 by
UNESCO. Kahitama R.F. the Kokilabari R.F. and the Panbari R.F. were added in
the year 1990 to form the Manas National Park. In 1992, UNESCO declared it as a
world heritage site in danger due to heavy poaching and terrorist activities.
On 25 February 2008, the area was increased to 950 km2. On 21 June 2011, it was
removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger and was commended for its
efforts in preservation.

Political Geography: The park area falls in the following
districts: Chirang, Baksa, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Udalguri and Bongaigaon in the
state of Assam in India.

 

The park is divided into
three ranges. The western range is based at Panbari, the central at Bansbari
near Barpeta Road, and the eastern at Bhuiyapara near Pathsala. The ranges are
not well connected; while two major rivers need to be forded in going from the
centre to the Panbari, there is a rough trail (the daimAri road) connecting the
centre to the eastern range. Most visitors come to Bansbari and then spend some
time inside the forest at Mathanguri on the Manas river at the Bhutan border.

 

Physical Geography: Manas is located in the foothills of the
Eastern Himalaya and is densely forested. The Manas river flows through the
west of the park and is the main river within it. It is a major tributary of
Brahmaputra river and splits into two separate rivers, the Bwrsi and Bholkaduba
as it reaches the plains. Five other smaller rivers also flow through the
national park which lies on a wide, low-lying alluvial terrace spreading out
below the foothills of the outer Himalaya. The Manas river also serves as an
international border dividing India and Bhutan. The bedrock of the savanna area
in the north of the park is made up of limestone and sandstone, whereas the
grasslands in the south of the park stand on deep deposits of fine alluvium.
The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation along with the riverine
succession continuing up to Sub-Himalayan mountain forest makes it one of the
richest areas of biodiversity in the world. The park is 950 square kilometres
(370 sq mi) in the area and is situated at an altitude of 61–110 metres above
mean sea level.

 

Climate: The minimum temperature is around 15 °C and
the maximum temperature is around 37 °C.Heavy rainfall occurs between May and
September. The annual average rainfall is around 333 centimetres.

 

Flora

Vegetation: The monsoon
forests of Manas lie in the Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests
ecoregion. The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation with
riverine succession leading up to the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf
forestsmakes it one of the richest biodiversity areas in the world.

 

The main vegetation
types are:

 

  • Sub-Himalayan Light Alluvial Semi-Evergreen forests in
    the northern parts.
  • East Himalayan mixed Moist and Dry Deciduous forests.
  • Low Alluvial Savanna Woodland, and;
  • Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen Alluvial Grasslands which
    cover almost 50% of the park.

 

Much of the riverine dry
deciduous forest is at an early successional stage. It is replaced by moist
deciduous forest away from water courses, which is succeeded by semi-evergreen
climax forest in the northern part of the park. A total of 543 plants species
have been recorded from the core zone. Of these, 374 species are dicotyledons
(including 89 trees), 139 species monocotyledons and 30 are Pteridophytes and
Gymnosperms.

 

The park’s common trees
include Aphanamixis polystachya, Anthocephalus chinensis, Syzygium cumini,
Syzygium formosum, Syzygium oblatum, Bauhinia purpurea, Mallotus philippensis,
Cinnamomum tamala, Actinodaphne obvata, Bombax ceiba, Sterculia villosa, Dillenia
indica, Dillenia pentagyna, Careya arborea, Lagerstroemia parviflora,
Lagerstroemia speciosa, Terminalia bellirica, Terminalia chebula, Trewia
polycarpa, Gmelina arborea, Oroxylum indicum and Bridelia spp. The grasslands
are dominated by Imperata cylindrica, Saccharum naranga, Phragmites karka,
Arundo donax, Dillenia pentagyna, Phyllanthus emblica, Bombax ceiba, and
species of Clerodendrum, Leea, Grewia, Premna and Mussaenda.

 

Fauna

The sanctuary has
recorded 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 of reptiles, and 3
species of amphibians. Out of these wildlife, 21 mammals are India’s Schedule I
mammals and 31 of them are threatened.

 

The fauna of the
sanctuary include Indian elephants, Indian rhinoceros, gaurs, Asian water
buffaloes, barasingha, Indian tigers, Indian leopards, clouded leopards, Asian
golden cats, dholes, capped langurs, golden langurs, Assamese macaques, slow
loris, hoolock gibbons, smooth-coated otters, sloth bears, barking deers, hog
deers, black panthers, sambar deers and chitals.

 

The park is well known
for species of rare and endangered wildlife that are not found anywhere else in
the world like the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy
hog.

 

The Manas hosts more
than 450 species of birds. It has the largest population of the endangered
Bengal florican to be found anywhere. Other major bird species include great
hornbills, jungle fowls, bulbuls, brahminy ducks, kalij pheasants, egrets,
pelicans, fishing eagles, crested serpent-eagles, falcons, scarlet minivets,
bee-eaters, magpie robins, pied hornbills, grey hornbills, mergansers,
harriers, Indian Peafowl, ospreysand herons.

Orang National Park

The Orang National Park is a national
park in India located on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra
River in the Darrang and Sonitpur
districts of Assam. It covers an area of
78.81 km2 (30.43 sq mi). It was established as a sanctuary
in 1985 and declared a national park on 13 April 1999. It has a rich flora and
fauna, including great Indian rhinoceros, pygmy hog, Asian
elephant, wild water buffalo and Bengal tiger. It is the only
stronghold of rhinoceros on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river.

The park has a chequered history of habitation.
Up to 1900, it was inhabited by the local tribes. On account of an epidemic
disease, the tribal population abandoned the area. However, in 1919 the British
declared it as Orang Game Reserve vide notice No. 2276/R dated 31 May 1915. The
game reserve came under the control of the wild life wing of the State Forest
Department to meet the requirements of the Project Tiger. It was established as
a wild life sanctuary in 1985, vide notification No. FRS 133/85/5 dated 20
September 1985. But in 1992, the park was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife
Sanctuary but this action had to be reversed due to public pressure against the
renaming. Finally, the sanctuary was declared as National Park in 1999 vide
notification No. FRW/28/90/154 dated 13 April 1999.

The Orang National Park, encompassing an area of
78.81 square kilometres (30.43 sq mi), lies on the north bank of the
Brahmaputra river, delimited between 26.483°N 92.266°E and 26.666°N
92.45°Ewithin the districts of Darrang and Sonitpur. Pachnoi river, Belsiri
river and Dhansiri Riverborder the park and join the Brahmaputra river. During the
monsoon season, the park becomes a veritable flood plain with the many streams
overlapping each other. These flood plains constitute twelve wetlands in the
park, apart from the 26 man made water bodies.

The park is thus formed of alluvial flood plains
of the many rivers and is an integral part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity
hotspot. The total area of the park has been categorized into: Eastern
Himalayan Moist Deciduous Forest-15.85 square kilometres (6.12 sq mi); Eastern
Seasonal SwampForest – 3.28 square kilometres (1.27 sq mi), Eastern Wet
Alluvial Grassland- 8.33 square kilometres (3.22 sq mi), Savannah Grassland-
18.17 square kilometres (7.02 sq mi), Degraded Grassland- 10.36 square
kilometres (4.00 sq mi), Water body- 6.13 square kilometres (2.37 sq mi), Moist
Sandy area-2.66 square kilometres (1.03 sq mi) and Dry Sandy area -4.02 square
kilometres (1.55 sq mi). It has a fairly flat terrain tending north to south
with a gentle slope. The elevation in the park varies from 45 metres (148 ft)
to 70 metres (230 ft). It is bounded on its south and east by islands and spill
channels of the river. But the flat alluvial land is seen distinctly as two
terraces; the lower terrace is of recent origin on the bank of the Brahmaputra
river and the other is the upper terrace to the north, separated by a high bank
running through the park. The whole park is encircled by inhabited villages
thus subjecting it to biotic pressure. It has fox holes built by the villagers
on its west.

Climate

The climate in the park comprises three seasons
namely, summer, monsoon, and winter. The park is subject to subtropicalmonsoon
climate with rainfall precipitationoccurring mostly during the period from May
to September. The average annual rainfall is 3,000 millimetres. Temperature
records indicate that: During winter months of October to March it varies from
5–15 °C in the mornings to 20–25 °C in the afternoons, in April it varies from
12–25 °C in the morning Celsius to 25–30 °C in the afternoon; and in summer
months of May and June, the variation is 20–28 °C in the morning to 30–32 °C in
the afternoon.Humidity in the park varies from 66% to 95%.

Fauna

Orang park contains
significant breeding populations of several mammalian species. Apart from the
great Indian one-horned rhinoceros (68 at the last count), which is the
dominant species of the national park, the other key species sharing the
habitat are the royal Bengal tiger, Asiatic elephant, pygmy hog, hog deer and
wild boar. Some important species of the critically endangered and endangered
category are the following:

 

The pygmy hog, a small
wild pig, is critically endangered and is limited to about 75 animals in
captivity, confined to a very few locations in and around north-western Assam,
including the Orang National Park where it has been introduced. Other mammals
reported are the blind Gangetic dolphin, Indian pangolin, hog deer, rhesus
macaque, Bengal porcupine, Indian fox, small Indian civet, otter, leopard cat,
fishing cat and jungle cat.

 

The Bengal tiger
population was estimated to comprise 19 individuals in 2000, based on pug
marks. The great Indian rhinoceros population is estimated at 68 individuals,
as per census carried out by the forest department in 2006.

 

Flora

The park has rich
vegetation of forests, natural forest, non-aquatic grass/plants. The forest
species found are Bombax ceiba, Dalbergia sissoo, Sterculia villosa, Trewia
nudiflora, Zizyphus jujuba and Litsaea polyantha. Among the non aquatic
grassland species the prominent are Phragmites karka, Arundo donax, Imperata
cylindrica and Saccharum spp. The aquatic grass/plants species found are:
Andropogon spp., Ipomoea reptans, Enhydra fluctuans, Nymphaea spp.and Water
hyacinth.

Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is a national
park in Assam, India, located in Dibrugarhand Tinsukia
districts. It was designated a Biosphere Reserve in July 1997 with an
area of 765 km2 (295 sq mi), including a core area of 340 km2 (130 sq mi)
and a buffer zone of 425 km2 (164 sq mi).

It is located at about 12 km (7.5 mi)
north of Tinsukia town at an average elevation of 118 m
(387 ft), ranging from 110 to 126 m (361 to 413 ft). The park is
bounded by the Brahmaputra and Lohit Rivers in the north
and Dibru river in the south. It mainly consists of moist mixed semi-evergreen
forests, moist mixed deciduous forests, canebrakes and
grasslands. It is the largest salix swamp forest in
north-eastern India, with a tropical monsoon climate with a hot and
wet summer and cool and usually dry winter. Annual rainfall ranges from 2,300
to 3,800 mm (91 to 150 in). It is a haven for many endangered species
and rich in fish diversity.

Conservation

The area was declared as Dibru Reserved Forest
in 1890. In 1920, additional area was added to the Dibru Reserve Forest. In
1929, Saikhowa Reserve Forest was declared. In 1933, more area was added to the
Dibru RF. In 1986, an area of 650 km2 was preliminarily declared as a
wildlife sanctuary out of which finally 340 km2 was declared as
wildlife sanctuary in 1995. In 1997, Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve was
declared with and area of 765 km2 that included the 340 km2of
sanctuary area as the core. In 1999, the 340 km2 of sanctuary area
was declared as national park.

Originally created to help conserve the habitat
of the rare white-winged wood duck, the park is also home to other rare
creatures such as water buffalo, black-breasted
parrotbill, tiger and capped langur. The park also has
some eco lodges.

Flora

The forest of Dibru-Saikhowa consists of
semi-evergreen forests, deciduous, littoral and swamp forests and patches of
wet evergreen forests. The national park is about 35.84% moist mixed forest,
9.50% degraded forest and 21.25% grassland. Major tree species of the area are
tetrasperma, Dillenia indica, Bischofia javanica, Bombax
ceiba, Lagerstroemia parviflora, Terminalia myriocarpa, Mesua
ferrea, Dalbergia sissoo, and Ficus. Arundo donax, Imperata
cylindrica, Phragmites karka, Saccharum ravennae are principal
types of grasses in the national park. 35 species of epiphytic orchids and
8 species of terrestrial orchid are recorded.

Fauna

Mammals: 36 mammal species have been recorded,
of which 12 are listed in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
Species include Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, clouded
leopard, jungle cat, sloth bear, dhole, small Indian
civet, Malayan giant squirrel, Chinese pangolin, Gangetic
dolphin, slow loris, pig tailed macaque, Assamese
macaque, rhesus macaque, capped langur, Hoolock
gibbon, Asian elephant, wild boar, Sambar deer, hog deer, barking
deer, Asiatic water buffalo, and feral horse.

Nameri National Park

Nameri National Park is a national
park in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas in
the Sonitpur District of Assam, India, about 35 km
from Tezpur. Nameri is about 9 km from Chariduar, the nearest village. It
shares its northern boundary with the Pakhui Wildlife
Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh. Together they constitute an area of
over 1000 km2 of which Nameri has a total area of 200  km2.

Nameri is also declared as Tiger
Reserve in the year 1999-2000, which is the 2nd Tiger reserve of Assam
after Manas Tiger Reserve. It has 2 core areas: Nameri National Park &
Sonai- Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary (Satellite Core of the Nameri Tiger Reserve).
The river Jia- Bhoroli is the lifeline of Nameri, which flows along the
Southern boundary of the park from North- West to South- East. In the eastern
side, the river Bor- Dikorai flows along the southern boundary from North- East
to South- West which is the tributary of river Jia- Bhoroli.

Rivers

The main Rivers are Jia- Bhoroli and Bor
Dikorai. Other tributaries of these two rivers are: Diji, Dinai,
Nameri, Khari, Upper Dikiri which originates in the Arunachal Himalayas and
flows through Pakke TR and Nameri TR.

The park was declared a reserve forest on 17
October 1978. It was set up as a Nameri Sanctuary on 18 September 1985 with an
area of 137 km2 as a part of Naduar Forest Reserve. Until then the
Nameri National Park was heavily used for logging. Another 75
 km2 was added on 15 November 1998 when it was officially established
as a National Park. The Jia Bhoroli river of Assam was famous since
the time of British for the golden mahseer angling.
The angling was officially banned in this Tiger reserve from 2011.

Flora

The vegetation type of nameri is of
semi-evergreen, moist deciduous forests with caneand bamboo
brakes and narrow strips of open grassland along rivers are also found here.
The forests are rich in epiphytes, lianas, and creepers and clump-forming
bamboo. This forest has over 600 species. Some notable species are Gmelina
arborea, Michelia champaca, Amoora wallichi, Chukrasia
tabularis, Ajar, Urium poma, Bhelu, Agaru, Rudraksha,
Bonjolokia, Hatipolia akhakan, hollock, Nahor. It is home for orchids like Dendrobium, Cymbidium and Cypripedioideae.

Fauna

This is excellent elephant country and was
considered to be an elephant reserve. It is an ideal habitat for a host of
other animals including the tiger, leopard, Hog
Deer, sambar, dhole (the Asiatic wild dog), Gaur, clouded
leopard, leopard cat, Barking Deer,wild boar, sloth
bear, Marbled Cat, Himalayan black bear, capped
langur and Indian giant squirrel.

Nameri is a birdwatcher’s paradise with over 300
species. The white winged wood duck, great pied
hornbill, wreathed hornbill, rufous necked hornbill, black
stork, ibisbill, blue-bearded
bee-eaters, babblers, plovers and many other birds make Nameri
their home.

Birding in Nameri

Nameri is the best sighting spot of the
endangered bird White- winged Duck(Asarcornis scutulata), which is also
the state bird of Assam. Ibisbill and Merganserare the two
species of migratory birds visit the park every winter. There are 374 (Three
hundred seventy four) species of bird recorded from this park in 2005 by Mr.
Maan Barua and Mr. Pankaj Sharma.

Conflicts and threats

Nameri faces two threats: One is due to
continued official logging in the area of Sonitpur. The major threat for
Nameri is human/animal conflict due to around 3000 cattle grazing the
forest. The other human/animal conflict is due to the vast group of
elephants in Nameri. There were several cases of elephant deaths. In 2001 there
were 18 elephant deaths. A great threat is possessed on this protected
area because of poachers who hunt the valuable birds for their wings.