The Assam government on Wednesday decided to rename Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park in Darrang and Sonitpur districts as Orang National Park, making this the third identity change for the wildlife sanctuary since it was notified in 1915 as a protected habitat.
“During a recent interaction between Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and prominent members of the Adivasi and tea-tribe community, they had demanded the removal of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s name from the Orang National Park,” said parliamentary affairs minister Pijush Hazarika.
“Taking cognizance of the Adivasi and tea tribe community’s demands, the cabinet has decided to rename Rajiv Gandhi National Park as Orang National Park,” Piyush Hazarika said on Wednesday.
The Chief Minister on Wednesday decided to proceed with the formality and passing the proposal at Koinadhora State Guest House, which was the official residence of the former Chief Minister (L) Tarun Gogoi.
The Orang National Park is located on the North Bank of the Brahmaputra river and is spread over 78.80 square km covering the Darrang and Sonitpur districts. It is Assam’s oldest forest reserve, and was categorized as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985 and declared as a national park in 1999.
Like Kaziranga, it is also inhabited by the one-horned rhinoceros. The Park has rich flora and fauna, including the pigmy hog, elephant, wild buffalo, and tiger. It is the smallest national park in Assam.
Last month the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award was renamed the Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award by the Modi Government.
“There was no demand for renaming of the national park from our side, but there may have been some who sought that. When the state has a BJP-led government, this was expected. In few years, a Congress government might change the name again,” said Dhiraj Gowala, president of Assam Tea Tribe Students Association (ATTSA), the premier student body of the community.
“Such name changes are part of a similar drive-by BJP government across the country. Instead of this, it would be better if the state government focuses on our main demands like granting scheduled tribe (ST) status to tea-tribes, increase in daily wages of tea-garden workers, etc.,” he added.