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Call to shut down stone quarries near KNP

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 21 - RTI-cum environment activist Rohit Choudhury has requested the Chief Secretary of the State to immediately stop operation of all the illegal stone quarries operating in the Karbi Anglong hills adjoining the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP & TR) with immediate effect, as per the December 4, 2006 order of the Supreme Court of India.

All stone quarries/mining activities in this area are being run illegally against the Supreme Court�s order, as it falls within the eco sensitive zone of the KNP & TR, said the environment activist.

In a letter to the Chief Secretary, Choudhury has claimed that more than 60 stone quarries are illegally operating in the Karbi Anglong hills adjoining the KNP & TR, posing a serious threat to the future and very survival of the Kaziranga National Park-Karbi Anglong landscape.

Choudhury warned the Chief Secretary that he would be compelled to move the Supreme Court with a contempt petition if the State government fails to stop the illegal stone mining operations in this area with immediate effect.

It needs mention that the Supreme Court, on December 4, 2006, had also said that all cases where environmental clearance was granted, where activities are within the 10-km zone of the protected area, be referred to the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).

Several written communications of the office of the Director, Kaziranga National Park, Bokakhat and office of the Divisional Forest Officer, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Bokakhat, addressed to various offices over the years highlighting the destructive nature of stone quarrying have repeatedly highlighted the importance of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape.

But it appears that the Government of Assam and the forest department of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council have paid no attention to the issue of long-term conservation of KNPTR, in spite of its being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, said the environment activist.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in its report dated April 20, 2018 addressed to the Chief Secretary, Assam, had recommended steps to stop all stone quarrying/mining and stone crusher activities in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape as they are seriously hampering survival and conservation of tigers, their habitat, co-predators and prey � including mega herbivorous ones � and their transit routes during annual floods.

In a communication dated July 6, 2018, the Director of Kaziranga National Park wrote to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force, Assam, highlighting the violation of the apex court�s December 4, 2006 order and requested for closure of mining operations in the animal corridor areas of the Karbi Anglong hills adjoining the KNP & TR.

But the State government, the offices of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, the Assam forest department, the Department of Mines and Minerals, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, the Pollution Control Board, etc., have not shown any respect to the apex court�s said order.

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