PIL filed in HC against illegal stone quarries in Garo Hills

Wanton destruction of forests for mineral extraction

TURA: In what can be termed a rap on the knuckles for politicians and policy makers who failed to halt the ongoing degradation of the rich land in Garo Hills caused by rampant illegal extraction of stones and boulders from hills and river beds, a young student leader has taken up the cudgels for the environment and moved the Meghalaya High Court.

Social activist and co-chairman of the Garoland State Movement Committee, Balkarin Ch Marak, has, last week, filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking the court’s intervention to halt the ongoing destruction of the environment through the continuous quarrying of stones and boulders for export to the neighbouring country of Bangladesh.

In his petition, the student leader accused the state government of providing a 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 in various corners of Garo Hills.

Highlighting the rampant tree felling and illegal extraction of both coal and stones, the petitioner stated in his PIL that hundreds of trucks loaded with stones from inside Garo Hills are being taken to Bangladesh on a regular basis.

Accusing the state government of giving a free hand to mafias to extract the minerals, the PIL mentioned that stones and boulders are being taken away from the river beds of the Simsang river, Rongmachok river, Bugi river, Sangkni river (Chokpot), Dadeng river causing an ecological destruction for the water bodies.

The PIL cited an example of the destruction caused to the Simsang river in Samanda Warima due to illegal mining of stones from the river bed allegedly undertaken by a stone quarry set up in the area. Locals have complained about the disappearance of the aquatic life in the river following the removal of the stones from the river bed.

It also mentions that the ongoing illegal quarrying does not stop with the rivers of Garo Hills, but goes much beyond. The PIL has given in detail the ongoing illegal activity of hills being flattened for extraction of boulders in Chokpot (South Garo Hills), 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 along the plain belt region of West and south West Garo Hills.

The PIL is seeking that the recent High Court Rrder putting an end to the unscientific extraction of stones in the areas around Cherrapunjee and Dawki to halt the destruction of the green cover should also be expanded into the Garo Hills region where the ecology continues to be destroyed by the quarrying.

The High Court is expected to take up the PIL next week.

Get real time updates directly on your device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.