GUWAHATI, Feb 12 - RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury on Monday filed a complaint with the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), constituted by the Supreme Court, against the high impact blasting for illegal stone mining and crushing in the Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve adjoining Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and Tiger Reserve.
In his complaint, Choudhury has alleged that the Chief Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Force of Assam have maintained total silence over the April 20, 2018 report of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and have allowed illegal stone quarrying and crushing to go on in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape.
He has also alleged that even after six months of its ordering an enquiry into the illegal stone mining activities in the Karbi Anglong hills, the office of the Director General of Police (DGP), Assam has not bothered to provide him any information on the progress of the enquiry, sought by him under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Due to the alleged nexus between the stone mafia and the Karbi Anglong police and Forest Department, illegal stone mining is going on in Karbi Anglong hills adjoining the KNP ignoring the orders and directions of the Gauhati High Court and the Supreme Court of India. Moreover, there is neither any environment and forest clearance, nor any recommendation from the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) for such activities.
High impact blasting is going on at the mining sites and this is having negative impact on the elephants and other wildlife of the area. The nexus of stone mafia with Assam Police and Assam / Karbi Anglong Forest Department is so strong that no FIR has been registered against the persons operating illegal stone quarrying / mining.
Heavy-duty automatic stone crushers are being operated in the prime elephant habitat of Karbi Anglong Hills and adjoining Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve with full knowledge and connivance of Assam Pollution Control Board, Karbi Anglong Forest Department and Karbi Anglong Police Department.
In this respect, Choudhury said section 38 O (1) (g) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 lays down that to “ensure that the tiger reserves and areas linking one protected area or tiger reserve with another protected area or tiger reserve are not diverted for ecologically unsustainable uses, except in public interest and with the approval of the National Board for Wildlife and on the advice of the Tiger Conservation Authority.”
He reminded the CEC that it was in the wake of his complaints filed on March 16, 2018 and November 26, 2018 on the illegal stone mining in the Karbi Anglong hills, the Empowered Committee visited the sites where stone mining etc activities are going on between March 29 and April 1, 2018 and May 30 and June 1, 2018.