Less than a month after the Modi government at the centre decided to drop the name of Rajiv Gandhi from the Khel Ratna award, the Himanta Biswa Sarma government has decided to drop the name of the former prime minister from one of the major national parks in the state. In the weekly cabinet meeting held in Guwahati, the Assam government decided to rename the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park to just Orang National Park.
Assam cabinet decided to drop Rajiv Gandhi from the name of the national park after several organisations had submitted demands to the state government for the same. In last month, Aranya Suraksha Samiti Assam, a nature organisation from the state, had submitted a memorandum to the chief minister urging to rename Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park as Orang National Park. The Adivasi and tea tribes living in the area were also demanding to drop Rajiv Gandhi from the name.
The national park located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river in Darrang, Udalguri and Sonitpur districts is known for various wild animals like Indian rhinos, royal Bengal tiger, pygmy hog, wild elephant, wild water buffalo etc. Covering an area of 79.28 km2, it was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985, and was upgraded to a national park in 1999.
Orang Wildlife Sanctuary was originally named after Rajiv Gandhi in 1992. However, due to massive protests from the public at that time, this decision was put on hold. However, after it was declared as a national park in 1999, the then Tarun Gogoi led Congress government had again renamed it Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park in 2001. Despite protests from the public and environmentalists, this decision remained in force.
Even though the official name of the park had Rajib Gandhi in it, people in the state never used it, it is always known as Orang National Park. Moreover, when the park was also declared as a tiger reserve in 2016, it was named as Orang Tiger Reserve only.