SHILLONG, Feb 10: The ban on limestone mining that has been necessitated due to the High Court’s order to prevent random mining and destruction of the environment has forced a huge chunk of youths from the southern slopes of the State to move to Shillong for employment.
This disclosure was made by none other than the migrating youths from Shella area of East Khasi Hills district.
“Since the ban on limestone mining, we have no other altertive means to sustain ourselves or to support our family menial source of livelihood,” stated a youth who is now working in a restaurant in Shillong.
He further said his father who has been driving a truck to ferry limestone to the export point is also without a job since limestone mining stopped three months ago.
Interestingly, another youth hailing from the adjacent areas said they are not the only few who have come in search of a job in Shillong in the past two to three months. “There are many more with no jobs in hand and hailing from around eight villages under Shella who are presently working in different places in Shillong,” stated the youth identified a Bipul Marak.
The villages that he mentioned include Umkabao, Jalia, Adorghat, Bamontilla, Umtham, Khasinda and others. These villages provided manual labour to the limestone quarries that provides the bulk of limestone for the cement factories located in Sylhet District of Bangladesh.
State Minister of Forest and Environment and Border Area Development, Prestone Tynsong conceded that the blanket ban has caused hardship on the dependents of Limestone business.
However, he categorically stated that there is a clear cut criteria for anyone who wanted to resume the mining process. “They should get a forest and environment clearance, put a mining plan and obtain a quarrying permit,” stated Tynsong.
Those who were forced to stop quarrying are those who have not abide with the condition that is based on the court order, felt the Minister while insisting on the quarry owners and lessees to complete the formalities.
Sources from the Customs and BSF confirmed that limestone export through Bholaganj-Beltuli and Tamabil has come down in the past few months. Notwithstanding the downward quantum of export of the tural resources to Bangladesh, Yet it is apparently clear that there is an export of fresh youths to Shillong due to unemployment in and around the place of stay.