GUWAHATI, July 4 - Stone quarrying activities in the Karbi Anglong Hills adjacent to the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) have a devastating impact on the National Park and its adjoining areas affecting the ecology of these areas and the wildlife of the National Park in an indescribable manner. This has come to light from a recent letter written by the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Bokakhat to the Field Director of the KNPTR.
The stone quarries located in the Karbi Anglong Hills are in fact located within the Eco-Sensitive Zone of the KNPTR as per an order of the Supreme Court of India passed on December 4, 2006.
A copy of the said letter was obtained by RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury through an RTI petition. Choudhury has alleged that the State Government has taken no action to close down the illegal stone quarries operating in the Karbi Anglong Hills adjoining Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve and within 10 kms from the Kaziranga National Park boundary. Government has shown no seriousness implement the recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority dated April 20, 2018 in this connection, he alleged.
The DFO, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division has requested the KNPTR Field Director to take up the issue of closure of unscientific stone mining in the Karbi Anglong Hills adjacent to the National Park areas with the authorities concerned for the greater interest of the forest and wildlife of the National Park, which is a World Heritage site too.
In a letter to the Field Director of the KNP, the DFO on June 26, 2018, said that a number of stone quarries are operating in the Karbi Anglong Hills adjacent to the National Park and Tiger Reserve and these quarries are adverse impacting the forest and wildlife of the National Park and Tiger Reserve.
The adverse impacts of stone mining activities in these quarries are highly fearsome. The stone mining activities are affecting numerous water bodies and streams flowing from the Karbi Anglong Hills and feeding the Diffolu River, which is a lifeline of the National Park and Tiger Reserve. The quality of water of these water bodies and streams has been affecting the wildlife habitats in and around Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve. Moreover, the damaged water quality of the area will also have an adverse impact on the soil quality of the National Park and its surrounding areas, which will in the long run affect vegetation and crops in the farmlands in and around the area, said the DFO.
Moreover, such stone mining activities are also changing the courses of several natural streams flowing from the Karbi Anglong Hills. The storm run-offs from the Karbi Anglong hills are loaded with higher amounts of silt and thus have been damaging the soil of the Park and its adjacent areas. Besides, the noise pollution created by such stone mining activities in and around the southern boundary of the Bagori, Kohora and Burapahar Ranges of the National Park has been adversely affecting the behaviour and movement of the wild animals of the Park and its adjacent areas.
The areas in which such stone mining activities are on have been frequented by the Kaziranga wild animals, specially during the flood season. Thus stone mining activities in the Karbi Anglong Hills have been affecting the ecology of the wild animals and their movements during the flood season, the DFO said.
An independent enquiry conducted by the office of the DFO also found that some of the stone quarries are located right on the animal corridors and hence are greatly affecting the movement of the animals between the natural flood plains of the National Park and highlands of the Karbi Anglong Hills. The heaps of mining wastes and other materials deposited near the mining sites and the on the National Highway-37 pose threat to the National Park, as these materials may get carried to the Park during the days of heavy rains. Many of the rivulets in the area have already got silted because of these mining activities.
Likewise, the rampant stone mining done by removing huge chunks of the forested land in search of boulders, are also believed to have led to the removal of various tree species and loss of habitats for the wild animals in these areas, the DFO said.