‘The proof was there right in front of us’


ON 19 April, the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal ( NGT) asked the MOEF to sub­mit a site in­spec­tion re­port by 23 May on a num­ber of in­dus­trial units func­tion­ing in­side the No-de­vel­op­ment Zone near the Kazi­ranga Na­tional Park. We de­cided to look for the truth.

Our source had al­ready in­formed us that quar­ries and crush­ers were op­er­at­ing with the gov­ern­ment choos­ing to look the other way. Our main ob­jec­tive was to look for case stud­ies in three ar­eas: the NoDe­vel­op­ment Zone, the Karbi An­g­long Elephant Re­serve and the area around the Kazi­ranga Na­tional Park.

On 24 April, we found a stone crusher in Borb­heta un­der the Bokakhat sub-di­vi­sion near Kazi­ranga, where a gi­ant au­to­mated stone crusher was at work and trucks full of stones were wait­ing to be un­loaded. It was all in front of us, giv­ing the lie to the gov­ern­ment claim.

Be­fore we could go look­ing for the owner, we were spot­ted by a group of 35-40 work­ers, who sur­rounded us and de­manded that we hand over our cam­era to them. Pho­tog­ra­pher Luit Chaliha was roughed up and his cam­era bro­ken. It was with the help of the lo­cal po­lice that the sit­u­a­tion was pre­vented from get­ting out of hand. The at­tack made one thing clear — that shut­ting a quarry in the re­gion would prove to be an uphill task. Too many peo­ple’s liveli­hoods de­pended on the quar­ries for them to care about the ecosys­tem. It is this quandary that has been ex­plored in the story.

On the up­side, the at­tack woke up the ad­min­is­tra­tion and min­ing in the area has scaled down. What the state couldn’t ac­com­plish, TEHELKA did at the cost of a bro­ken cam­era.

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