Quarry trapped

Proposal to excavate stone near Kaziranga in abeyance

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Elephant movement will be rest a controversy has arisen over the Assam forest department's attempt to open up quarrying close to the Kaziranga National Park.

The forest department has invited tenders to open a stone quarry at Mikir Chang, located in a prime wildlife habitat close to Kaziranga. The quarry is to supply 10,000 cubic metres of stones, mainly to the controversial Bogibeel project -- the second bridge to be built over the Brahmaputra river.

The proposed quarry might get caught up in a legal tangle, as it falls inside a regulated development zone declared under the Environment Protection Act, 1996, following international outcry over threats to the park from Numaligarh refinery. The zone lies on the outskirts of Kaziranga, points out Assam wildlife warden Arup Goswami.

Besides, the quarry site lies in the corridor the elephants use to move from Kaziranga to the Nambor Doigurong Wildlife Sanctuary, and from there to the Gorompani Wildlife Sanctuary, says Bibhab Talukdar of Aaranyak, an Assam-based ngo. Quarrying would also adversely affect the tiger populations of the park, as breeding tigers have been sited in this area, say environmentalists.

The forest department has been caught on the wrong foot. Chief conservator of forests (Territorial), Suresh Chand, says that the decision to allow quarrying has been kept in abeyance following objections from ngo s and critical news reports. Chand clarified that his office had invited tenders for the quarry only after receiving a request from the State Public Works Department to help locate quarrying materials. Surprisingly, M C Malakar, the state's chief wildlife warden, says that he is yet to receive any official intimation about the proposed quarry from the territorial wing.

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