GUWAHATI, JULY 23: Animals of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape have started moving unhindered to the deserted stone mining sites of the hill district. These sites were regarded to be dreaded places by the animals of this landscape till April last because of noise pollution caused by sounds of blasting operations, running machines and vehicles, besides the presence of people connected with stone mining activities there.
Though these areas form part of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Habitat and are also the natural habitats of many other species, stone mining activities carried out with impunity by some unscrupulous businessmen with support from influential quarters, had made movement of wild animals in these areas impossible.
Stone mining activities in these areas were banned by the State Forest Department on April 30, following a Supreme Court order issued on April 12, 2019 in application No. 1431 filed by the Central Empowered Committee in the top Court in connection with a complaint filed by activist Rohit Choudhury on the issue of illegal stone mining in Karbi Anglong hills.
The Supreme Court order said, “…we order that all kind of mining and related activities along the aforesaid Kaziranga National Park area and in the entire catchment area of rivers/streams and rivulets originating in Karbi Anglong Hill ranges and flowing into Kaziranga National Park, including Tiger Reserve area restrained. No new construction shall be permitted on private lands which form part of the 9 identified animal corridors.”
The State Forest Department on April 30 issued the order banning forthwith all kinds of mining and related activities along the southern boundary of the KNP and in the entire catchment area of the rivers/streams and rivulets originating in Karbi Anglong Hill ranges and flowing into KNP.
KNP Director Karmashree P Sivakumar told this newspaper yesterday that the Kaziranga animals are moving towards the areas where a couple of months back there was much disturbance for them. However, it remains a fact that these areas are part of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Habitat. There are several categories of forests in these areas. Some of the forests in these areas are reserved category forests, while some of them are owned by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and some others are owned by individuals.
After all kinds of mining activities are banned in these areas, KNP animals are roaming freely in these areas and it is observed that the movement of wild animals in these areas is growing, said the KNP Director.
Eastern Assam Wildlife Division DFO Rohini Saikia told this newspaper that though a scientific study is yet to be carried out on the phenomenon, but from even a layman’s point of view, movement of wild animals is increasing in these areas. Wild animals are moving in these areas unhindered nowadays, he asserted.
Some other senior Forest officials, on condition of anonymity, said that in the areas known as Dhing Quarry, Silimkhowa Quarry, etc., movement of herds of wild elephants and buffaloes, and pug marks of tigers have been observed during the current flood season.
Earlier, these sites were not visited by the wild animals, despite the fact that they have their traditional habitats there and several of their corridors are connected with these places. Quarrying affected their habitats and corridors. Since the quarrying activities have stopped, wild animals have again started their movements in these areas, said the Forest officials. (Courtesy: AT)