Re­new­ing Li­cences to make a Killing?

Even aer a green tri­bunal re­stricted stone quar­ry­ing ac­tiv­i­ties around the Kazi­ranga Na­tional Park, the state has re­newed min­ing li­cences in the area, says


dranath Brahma through his let­ter ( KAAC/ F/16/2003-10) dated 24 March. The state gov­ern­ment how­ever main­tains that no li­cences have been is­sued since De­cem­ber 2011.

In a land­mark judg­ment on 3 March 2011, the Gauhati High Court had made it manda­tory to have per­mis­sion from the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Forests ( MOEF) be­fore set­ting up any in­dus­trial unit within 25 km of the Kazi­ranga Na­tional Park. The or­der came in re­sponse to a pe­ti­tion filed by stone crusher op­er­a­tors around the park in 2003. The crusher op­er­a­tors had filed the pe­ti­tion af­ter the As­sam For­est Depart­ment asked them to fur­nish copies of ap­proval of MOEF to set up stone-crush­ing units, un­der the En­vi­ron­ment (Pro­tec­tion) Act 1986.

In the is­sue dated 12 May, TEHELKA had high­lighted how il­le­gal stone min­ing and quar­ry­ing were de­vour­ing the ecol­ogy of the na­tional park. A pe­ti­tion filed in the NGT by ac­tivist Ro­hit Choud­hury on 17 De­cem­ber 2011 al­leged that the As­sam gov­ern­ment had wrongly is­sued per­mits to stone crush­ers in Kazi­ranga, vi­o­lat­ing a 1996 no­ti­fi­ca­tion of the MOEF, which de­clared an area within a 15 km ra­dius of the Nu­ma­li­garh Oil Re­fin­ery as No-de­vel­op­ment Zone ( NDZ).

The no­ti­fi­ca­tion says that op­er­a­tors needed prior per­mis­sion from the MOEF to op­er­ate quar­ries in the area. Fol­low­ing Choud­hury’s pe­ti­tion, the NGT passed an in­terim or­der on 15 Fe­bru­ary 2012 ask­ing the Tarun Go­goi gov­ern­ment not to re­new or is­sue fresh per­mits to stone crush­ers or stone quar­ry­ing units in the area.

RTI replies on the is­sue of re­newal of li­cence from the for­est depart­ment and the MOEF clearly men­tion that the 14 stone crush­ers, whose li­cences have been re­newed by the Chief Con­ser­va­tor of Forests Karbi An­g­long, fall within 25 km of the boundary of the Na­tional Park. The crush­ers also fall within a 10 km ra­dius of the pro­posed eco-sen­si­tive zone and cut across elephant cor­ri­dors.

At the time of go­ing to press, no re­sponse was forth­com­ing from for­est depart­ment of­fi­cials de­spite re­peated at­tempts to con­tact them.

• Stone-hearted A 15 km ra­dius around the habi­tat is sup­posed to be a No-de­vel­op­ment Zone

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