Illegal mining near Kaziranga National Park: Report sought from Karbi Anglong SP

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GUWAHATI, August 27: The office of the director general of police has entrusted the Karbi Anglong superintendent of police to probe into illegal stone quarrying activities within a 10-km radius of Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage Site, following a complaint lodged by environment activist Rohit Choudhury.
A letter issued by the police headquarters here on August 7 has directed the Karbi Anglong superintendent of police to submit an “action taken’ report to the director general of police “at the earliest” on the issue of illegal stone quarrying in the area.
“You are requested to inquire into the issue, take necessary action as per law and submit an action taken report to the (police) headquarters for perusal of the director general of police, Assam, for perusal at the earliest,” the letter said.
The development came after Choudhury lodged a complaint with the state chief secretary TY Das last month, highlighting the dangers posed to Kaziranga because of rampant mining and stone quarrying within a 10-km radius from the park in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district. In the complaint, Choudhury said despite several written communications from the offices of the director of Kaziranga National Park and the divisional forest office of the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Bokakhat, there has been no attempt to stop illegal mining and quarrying.
“It appears the forest department of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council had paid no attention to the issue of long term conservation threat to Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, in spite of being an Unesco World Heritage Site,” Choudhury said in the letter to the chief secretary. The National Tiger Conservation Authority in April this year had asked the state government to ban stone quarrying and mining in Karbi Anglong immediately as the activities had emerged as a serious threat to ecology and wildlife in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape.
“It has been noticed that despite several written complaints by me to various authorities regarding illegal mining in the Karbi Anglong hills adjoining Kaziranga, the stone mafia of Bokakhat, Kohora, Khutori and adjoining areas, along with the connivance of local political leaders and government officials, are running stone mining syndicates without stop. This has destroyed elephant habitats as well as other animal corridors,” Choudhury told TOI on Sunday.
“I hope chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal will take necessary action to stop the stone mining syndicate by taking strict action against those involved in the illegal activities and implement the Supreme Court’s order on December 4, 2006,” Choudhury added.
The Supreme Court’s December 4, 2006 order stated that all cases where environmental clearances were granted for activities within 10-km of the protected area should be referred to the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). (TNN)