Guwahati, Thursday, March 25, 2010
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SC steps in to protect forests in Garo Hills
 TURA, March 24 – Appreciating the efforts of NGOs for relentlessly fighting against deforestation in Garo Hills and giving a boost to conservation, the Supreme Court’s Central Empowerment Committee has decided to issue an interim order prohibiting any further deforestation in the Balpakram National Park.

The move comes in the wake of a petition filed in the apex court by a group of NGOs from Garo Hills who are opposing the extraction of coal and limestone deposits in the boundary of the National Park. Several companies and private individuals have been extracting minerals from the Park area for the last two years and attempts by NGOs to put a stop to it has failed to yield any result due to alleged nexus between mining companies and politicians of the State.

The NGOs of South Garo Hills, spearheaded by the Southern Zone of the Garo Students Union filed the petition before the apex court to halt mining in the Gongrot Aking land area which borders the Balpakram National Park since the ecological balance of the region is under severe threat.

Concern is more because the famous Simsang river which passes through the area has become polluted from coal residue, the production of the famous oranges of Siju has drastically fallen, the commonly available local fish is now under threat and tourists who visit the Park are increasingly finding it difficult to spot or hear the sound of wild animals and birds.

Even the elephant corridor in the Park has been disturbed by the mining activities.

The NGOs who petitioned the court include Siju Youth Socio-Cultural Organisation, Southern Youth and Cultural Organization, Siju Eco-Tourism and Conservation Society, Tura Government College Students’ Union and the Youth Development and Vigilance Committee.

The counsel for the NGOs, Sanjay Upadhyay, said that “....the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), after hearing the matter of the unauthorised mining activities in Gongrot Aking area, assured that they would recommend to the Supreme Court to pass an interim order to prevent any such activity and would issue an Advisory to authorities concerned to prevent any mining in this area till the pendency of the application. It also noted that the stand of the applicant stands vindicated as it was also confirmed by the Principal Chief Conservator of forests (PCCF) of the State.”

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