Mining destroys natural highlands where Kaziranga’s animals take shelter during flood

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GUWAHATI, July 5: Kaziranga National Park (KNP) authorities have warned that the natural highlands in the adjoining Karbi Anglong hills where animals from the World Heritage Site take shelter during flood are increasingly being destroyed because of the indiscriminate stone quarrying activity.
While the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had in April this year asked for immediate ban on mining activities in Karbi Anglong as it poses a direct threat to Kaziranga’s ecology, KNP’s latest assessment of the stone extraction activities have reiterated danger to the protected area especially when the prospect of flood looms large.
During high flood large number of animals including elephants and rhinos moves out of KNP and take shelter on the natural highlands of Karbi Anglong, across the southern boundary of Kaziranga.
The assessment done by KNP, which is also a tiger reserve, that some of the stone quarries located right on the animal corridors are affecting animals movement, damaging the flood plains of Kaziranga and natural highlands of Karbi Anglong.
The assessment report compiled last month, made public by environment activist Rohit Choudhury through an RTI application, came at a time when KNP authorities are bracing up for the flood, that usually inundates almost 80% of 430 sq km area. Although flood is yet to hit Kaziranga, animals especially large mammals like elephants in large herds have started moving to the highlands of Karbi Anglong with rain water filling up scores of wetland inside the protected area.
What has made the “unscientific” stone quarrying more damaging to KNP, the report pointed out that extracted materials are being dumped close to protected area.
The report mentioned that the extracted materials are dumped at as many as 38 sites between Kuthori and
Bagori along the national highway 37. The distance between Kuthori and Bagori is barely 10 KM and are in proximity to the park boundary.
“Almost all the sites are maintained by individual households on their patta lands without any legal document permitting to hold such material,” the report said.
The materials are dumped in these lands in guise of earth-filling, but in fact they are kept for sale, the report pointed out. The owners engage labourers for separating stones, pebbles and earth from the dumped material for selling it to buyers.
In April NTCA wrote to state government asking for “immediate ban” on mining, quarrying and stone-crushing activities in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape, after Choudhury complained to about the threat posed to Kaziranga because of indiscriminate mining.
Sources said that KNP authority’s latest assessment has demonstrated that no action has been taken especially by the sixth scheduled-administered Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. (TNN)