Unabated stone mining in Karbi Anglong

Ajit Patowary
GUWAHATI, March 4 - RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury has alleged that under the adverse impact of stone mining in the Karbi Anglong hills, the Mori Diffalo river, which is the southern boundary of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) is gradually dying up. This has resulted in scarcity of water for the wild animals of the National Park, particularly in the dry season, he said. It needs mention here that the KNP is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In support of his above assertion, Choudhury referred to several communications made by the Park officials to different quarters, besides his own observations. 

He said that this phenomenon of the Mori Diffalo river drying up was first noticed by the then KNP Director in 2007. In a letter to the Conservator of Forests, Karbi Anglong, the then Director of the Park wrote on July 25, 2007, “…….the Mori Diffalo River constituting the southern boundary of the Kaziranga National Park is gradually drying up due to heavy siltation from the crusher dusts coming down from the crusher plants of Panbari area. As a result, the wild animals are not getting sufficient water for drinking and wallowing particularly during the dry season. These crusher dusts are also adversely affecting the agricultural land of the nearby area. I, therefore, request you kindly to look into the matter and take necessary action before irreversible damage is done to the greater cause of long-term conservation in the World Heritage Site…….”

Then again, the Director of the National Park wrote to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Karbi Anglong on October 7, 2017, “…….. I am enclosing herewith a copy of complaint dated 05-10-2017 received from Sri Rohit Choudhury of Bokakhat, Dist: Golaghat highlighting the problems of Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant corridor due to stone quarrying in Karbi Anglong hills within 3-4 km distance from the boundary of Kaziranga National Park. We have also observed that due to excessive quarrying in Karbi hills, the adjoining agricultural fields and downstream Diffalo river are getting silted thereby adversely affecting the wildlife and habitat of Kaziranga National Park.

I, therefore, request you kindly to take necessary action for closure of the stone quarries of Karbi-Anglong situated near Kaziranga National Park.”

The Director of the National Park wrote on October 9, 2017 to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force, Assam, “……..a number of stone quarries are running in Karbi Anglong District near Geleki, Panbari, Rongagora, Silimkhuwa, Rongbongwe, Dihingjuri & Killing Gaon etc. Though these stone quarries are under jurisdiction of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, they are inside the proposed Eco Sensitive Zone of Kaziranga National Park. Running of these stone quarries is leading to adverse impact on environment & affecting the water bodies of Kaziranga National Park. I am of the view that these stone quarries should be closed in the greater interest of the Wildlife of Kaziranga National Park…” 

However, Choudhry rued that no action has so far been taken by the authorities concerned so far to save the KNP from this ominous development. He said that he had written to the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change on October 5, 2017 on the same issue. But till date, no action has been initiated to tackle harmful mining activities in the Karbi Anglong hills adjoining the National Park. 

It if feared that if the trend of rampant stone mining and stone crushing in the areas adjoining KNP continues, soon the wild animals of the National Park will face a serious threat to their survival.

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