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State Govt, KAAC accused of ignoring illegal stone mining near KNP

By Ajit Patowary
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GUWAHATI, Oct 30 - RTI-cum-environmental activist Rohit Choudhury has alleged that the State Government and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) authorities are virtually turning a blind eye towards illegal stone mining activities in the vicinity of the world famous Kaziranga National Park (KNP), which is the pride of Assam, nay India.

KNP is also a Tiger Reserve as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rohit Choudhury has been fighting for quite a long time to bring an end to the illegal stone mining activities in the vicinity of this National Park. He alleged that the entire Government machinery of the State is hand-in-glove with those running the illegal stone mining activities in the vicinity of the National Park.

The nexus is so strong that the officials of the State Government have even ignored the notification of the Union Government, communications of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and orders of the Supreme Court not to facilitate illegal stone mining in close proximity of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, Choudhury alleged.

Listing the violations, he said stone quarrying activities in the Karbi Anglong Hills is going on in violation of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notification (MoEFCC) dated January 15, 2016 {No. SO 141 (E)} meant for District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA).

It laid down a provision for preparation of separate survey reports for minor minerals in the district, which states that the draft of such reports should be placed in the public domain by keeping their copies in the collectorate and posting them on the website of the district concerned for 21 days.

But in case of stone mining in the vicinity of KNP, no district survey report has been prepared by the DEIAA. The Directorate of Geology and Mining of the State said in its website that around 399 mining plans were approved for the year 2017-18 in the State, and out of these, over 50 mining plans (both stone and sand mining) were approved for Karbi Anglong alone.

Further, it is mandatory to file Form 1 M by the project proponent giving all details of the area in which mining would be done before environmental clearance (EC) is granted as per the above notification.

However, the reply dated August 7 last from the office of the Divisional Forest Officer, Karbi Anglong West Division to the RTI application dated May 3 last gives some contradictory facts.

The Central Information Commission in its order dated January 18, 2012, had directed that information like copies of applications and related documents submitted by the project proponent while seeking prior EC, particularly the documents like Form 1 and Form 1A, where applicable; additional information submitted to the Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) by the project proponent, reports/studies commissioned by the EACs through independent agencies/sub-committees and post EC compliance reports should be made available on the official website with effect from April 1, 2012.

The MoEFCC through its order dated March 20, 2012 had directed the respective member secretaries of various EACs and State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs) to upload information/documents which would inter-alia include Form-I, Form-IA, pre-feasibility report, the draft terms of reference, environment impact assessment report, filled-in questionnaire for environmental appraisal projects, public hearing proceedings, all the study reports undertaken at the instance of the EACs and any additional information submitted by the project proponent to the EACs on the website of MoEFCC/SEIAA with effect from April 1, 2012.

In view of the above orders and notifications of the CIC and MoEFCC, the chairman of SEIAA, Assam was requested to upload project-related documents, including (i) minutes of the meetings of SEIAA and SEAC (consisting of the information as stated above), (ii) environmental clearance letters, (iii) post-EC compliance report etc., but to no avail. Assam, it may be mentioned, is the only State in the country which has not uploaded such information on its official websites, revealed Choudhury.

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State Govt, KAAC accused of ignoring illegal stone mining near KNP

GUWAHATI, Oct 30 - RTI-cum-environmental activist Rohit Choudhury has alleged that the State Government and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) authorities are virtually turning a blind eye towards illegal stone mining activities in the vicinity of the world famous Kaziranga National Park (KNP), which is the pride of Assam, nay India.

KNP is also a Tiger Reserve as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rohit Choudhury has been fighting for quite a long time to bring an end to the illegal stone mining activities in the vicinity of this National Park. He alleged that the entire Government machinery of the State is hand-in-glove with those running the illegal stone mining activities in the vicinity of the National Park.

The nexus is so strong that the officials of the State Government have even ignored the notification of the Union Government, communications of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and orders of the Supreme Court not to facilitate illegal stone mining in close proximity of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, Choudhury alleged.

Listing the violations, he said stone quarrying activities in the Karbi Anglong Hills is going on in violation of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notification (MoEFCC) dated January 15, 2016 {No. SO 141 (E)} meant for District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA).

It laid down a provision for preparation of separate survey reports for minor minerals in the district, which states that the draft of such reports should be placed in the public domain by keeping their copies in the collectorate and posting them on the website of the district concerned for 21 days.

But in case of stone mining in the vicinity of KNP, no district survey report has been prepared by the DEIAA. The Directorate of Geology and Mining of the State said in its website that around 399 mining plans were approved for the year 2017-18 in the State, and out of these, over 50 mining plans (both stone and sand mining) were approved for Karbi Anglong alone.

Further, it is mandatory to file Form 1 M by the project proponent giving all details of the area in which mining would be done before environmental clearance (EC) is granted as per the above notification.

However, the reply dated August 7 last from the office of the Divisional Forest Officer, Karbi Anglong West Division to the RTI application dated May 3 last gives some contradictory facts.

The Central Information Commission in its order dated January 18, 2012, had directed that information like copies of applications and related documents submitted by the project proponent while seeking prior EC, particularly the documents like Form 1 and Form 1A, where applicable; additional information submitted to the Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) by the project proponent, reports/studies commissioned by the EACs through independent agencies/sub-committees and post EC compliance reports should be made available on the official website with effect from April 1, 2012.

The MoEFCC through its order dated March 20, 2012 had directed the respective member secretaries of various EACs and State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs) to upload information/documents which would inter-alia include Form-I, Form-IA, pre-feasibility report, the draft terms of reference, environment impact assessment report, filled-in questionnaire for environmental appraisal projects, public hearing proceedings, all the study reports undertaken at the instance of the EACs and any additional information submitted by the project proponent to the EACs on the website of MoEFCC/SEIAA with effect from April 1, 2012.

In view of the above orders and notifications of the CIC and MoEFCC, the chairman of SEIAA, Assam was requested to upload project-related documents, including (i) minutes of the meetings of SEIAA and SEAC (consisting of the information as stated above), (ii) environmental clearance letters, (iii) post-EC compliance report etc., but to no avail. Assam, it may be mentioned, is the only State in the country which has not uploaded such information on its official websites, revealed Choudhury.

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