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‘Court ruling twisted to allow illegal quarrying near Kaziranga’

Digging deep: An illegal stone quarry site near the Kaziranga National Park.  

Stone quarry owners have twisted a Gauhati High Court order to illegally extract boulders and stones in the vicinity of Kaziranga National Park, an Assam-based environment activist has told a Supreme Court-constituted committee.

In his letter to the Member Secretary of the Central Empowered Committee, Rohit Choudhury, the activist, said that the High Court had on September 25 ordered the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Karbi Anglong East Division to “relocate/ adjust” the Silimkhowa (close to Kaziranga) stone quarry to a suitable location. The court also allowed the removal of extracted stones from the area during this period.

Twisting order

“The court order has been misinterpreted, and instead of extracting the stones lying at the site, quarry operators are using high-impact blasting and heavy machinery in the entire Karbi Anglong Hills adjoining the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve,” Mr. Choudhury said.

“The mining is being done without any environment clearance, forest clearance, or recommendation of the National Board for Wildlife. Even extraction or removal of stones lying at the site, or transportation of the same, amounts to mining,” he said.

Mr. Choudhury said the illegal mining is being done with the “full knowledge” of the police and Forest Department of the Karbi Anglong district, and the stones are transported illegally on the highway skirting the Kaziranga National Park without any transit pass.

The stone quarries are along the corridors of the 430 sq. km. Kaziranga National Park, which animals use to move to the safety of the Karbi Anglong Hills during high floods.

Threat to habitat

“Considering the importance of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape in conserving mega herbivores such as the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, the Indian elephant, and carnivores such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, it is imperative that this landscape is given top priority for conservation and habitat restoration,” Mr. Choudhury said.

“We have asked the Karbi Anglong district authority to look into the matter,” a senior forest officer said on Sunday.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 4:23:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/court-ruling-twisted-to-allow-illegal-quarrying-near-kaziranga/article25649368.ece

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