GUWAHATI, Dec 1 - Illegal stone quarrying is carried out by the stone quarry owners in Karbi Anglong hills adjacent to Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) by misinterpreting a Gauhati High Court order, alleged RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury in a petition before the Member Secretary of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).
The CEC is a permanent body appointed by the Supreme Court to look into matters related to the environment.
Choudhury also made an appeal to the CEC to order a complete ban on all types of stone quarrying activities in the entire Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape for the protection of the KNPTR, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Choudhury said in his petition that the Gauhati High Court passed an order on September 25, 2018, in Case No. WP (C) 6317//2018, stating inter alia, �� Divisional Forest Officer, Karbi Anglong East Division, Diphu is directed to relocate/adjust the stone quarry of the petitioner, i.e., Silimkhuwa Stone Quarry to a suitable location and allow extraction of the contracted quantity of stone within 2 months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order.
In the meanwhile, if the petitioner has made any extraction of stone from Silimkhuwa Stone Quarry, which are lying at the site, the petitioner may be permitted to remove the same��
Similar orders from the Gauhati High Court have been obtained by other stone quarry owners in the area. Now, after obtaining such order, illegal mining by misinterpreting the judgement of the Gauhati High Court by using high impact blasting and heavy machineries have started in the entire Karbi Anglong hills adjoining KNPTR, whereas the Gauhati High Court order was only for removing the extracted stone lying at the sites.
Moreover, mining activities are carried out in these areas without any environmental clearance, forest clearance or recommendation of the National Board for Wildlife. It is worth mentioning that extraction/removing of the stone lying at the site or transportation of the same amounts to mining, Choudhury said.
He alleged that illegal mining in the Karbi Anglong hills are carried out with the full knowledge of the Karbi Anglong Forest Department and Karbi Anglong police administration. Stone from the sites are transported illegally on National Highway-37 without any transit pass (TP) and this too is done with the full knowledge of the authorities concerned, said Choudhury.
Till recently, Kaziranga flood plains and the Karbi Anglong hills formed parts of the same landscape and there was regular to and fro movement of animals in this landscape. But growing anthropogenic pressure has now started obstructing movement of animals between these two habitats of theirs.
Since Kaziranga has high abundance and long-ranging animals like elephants, which is declared as the Heritage Animal of India, the conservation of the adjoining hills in Karbi Anglong is exceedingly important. Granting permission to activities like stone mining in Karbi Anglong hills will have disastrous impact on the animal habitats and may aggravate the man-animal conflict scenario in the entire area, he said.
He also alleged that siltation caused by stone mining activities in the Karbi Anglong hills has affected the natural water bodies of KNP and have also destroyed the paddy fields located near KNP.
Thus, stone mining activities in the Karbi Anglong hills have posed a grave threat to the existence of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, said the RTI-cum-environment activist.