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JHADC urges govt to counter Assam’s plans

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Proposed auction of limestone and iron-ore blocks near caves, forests

By Our Reporter

Shillong, Feb 23: The JHADC has shot off a petition to Chief Secretary DP Wahlang against the proposed auction of seven limestone blocks and one iron-ore block by the Directorate of Geology and Mining, Assam.
The JHADC stated that the area where the auction is proposed falls within the jurisdiction of Assam, but the actual concern is that the proposed auction site is located just 220 metres from Krem Labit located at Umkyrpong village in Jaintia Hills.
“The Forest department of Meghalaya has already declared the area as community reserved forest under Section 36(c) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Thus, if the auction of the Assam government materialises, it will without a doubt affect Krem Labit,” the JHADC said.
The council has urged the chief secretary to take up the matter with the Assam government to protect the cave and the community reserved forest. The Assam government recently issued an advertisement inviting bids for auction of seven limestone blocks and one iron-ore block in the state.
Limestone mining is conducted using the blasting technology which poses a serious threat to the environment. All seven limestone blocks are reportedly in Dima Hasao and the Kopili river, the district’s lifeline, meanders through them.
The pollution caused by limestone mining and its downstream activities are questions that have reportedly not been addressed by the Assam government.
What is worrying for Meghalaya is that the advertised limestone blocks adjoin the natural caves of ecological importance within Meghalaya. The blasting during the mining operations and the dust during the operations of cement manufacturing will impact these caves notified by the government of India as being ecologically sensitive.
Apart from Krem Labit, the longest natural cave in Asia — Krem Liat Prah — with an explored length of 30,957 metres will be affected. This cave is about 8 km from the limestone blocks while Krem Tynheng is about 5 km away in Samasi village.
These are also areas where the Amur falcons come to roost on their way from Siberia to Africa.
At one time, the Dima Hasao Students’ Union filed a petition in the Supreme Court to stop coal mining in East Jaintia Hills as it was polluting their rivers and the water had become toxic.
It remains to be seen if the Assam-based union raises a red flag over the destructive limestone mining plan of the Assam government.

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