PIL in High Court against illegal quarries in Garo Hills

TURA: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Meghalaya High Court seeking its intervention in putting a stop to illegal quarrying of stones and boulders in Garo Hills for export to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Social activist and co-chairman of the Garoland State Movement Committee Balkarin Ch Marak last week filed the PIL accusing the state government of providing political ‘lip service’ to caring for the environment by staging events such as ‘Shillong My Passion’, ‘Meghalaya Plastic Challenge’, ‘One Citizen, One Tree’ programmes while allowing stone quarrying and ecological destruction to take place in many parts of Garo Hills.
The PIL also included details obtained through RTI about the alleged ‘No Objection’ given for stone quarrying by the Meghalaya Forest Department.
Highlighting the rampant felling of trees and the illegal extraction of both coal and stones, the PIL said that hundreds of trucks are carrying stones from Garo Hills to Bangladesh on a regular basis.
Accusing the state government of giving a free hand to the mafia to extract the minerals, the PIL stated that stones and boulders are being taken away from the Simsang, Rongmachok, Bugi, Sangkni (Chokpot) and Dadeng rivers causing destruction to the water bodies.
It cited an example of the destruction caused to the Simsang river in Samanda Warima due to the mining of stones from the riverbed allegedly by a stone quarry. Locals have complained about the disappearance of the aquatic life in the river following the removal of the stones. It also mentioned that the illegal quarrying does not stop with the rivers of Garo Hills, but goes much beyond.
The PIL has also mentioned about hills being flattened for extraction of boulders in Chokpot, Phulbari, Dadeng, Zekabari, Manggapara, Jongkipara, Bollonggre, Matchokchiring, Damjonggre, Sabraguri, Matcha Nokpante, Galamatgre, Walkamgre, Rangdighopa, Rochonpara, Pipulbari, Jeldopara, Manrugre, Dhalasil, Tangaon, Morashali, Makrikula, Bantimari Jewali villages which are all located in the plains of West and South West Garo Hills.
The PIL has sought extension of the recent high court order, putting an end to the unscientific extraction of stones in the areas around Cherrapunjee and Dawki, to the Garo Hills region.
The high court is expected to take up the PIL next week.

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