From Our Special Correspondent
Silchar, Aug 29: There is general allegation by the people of the greater Kalain areas of Cachar about ubated quarrying of stones from river Kalain. Interestingly, Kalain forest range areas fall under Karimganj district. Hundreds of boats are engaged in extracting stones rolling down from the Borail hill ranges in the Kalain river. Though there is forest range office, there is no interference in the illegal activities. This results in loss of huge revenue to the state exchequer, according to informed sources. The way loot of tural resources is going on under the forest range indicates there is nexus between the boatmen and the forest staff.
According to eyewitness account, everyday around 250 to 300 boats are engaged in extracting stones freely. It is a sort of open ravaging of forest resources. This phenomenon of illegal activity is also going on in other stone quarries of the area under Karimganj forest division. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Kalain and Baleswar quarries have become a laissez fare for the plunderers of forest materials. The informed sources say that several public interest litigations are pending on the issue in Gauhati High Court. But, the plunderers are damn care and carry on their illegal activities without any hindrance.
When the matter was brought to the notice of the Parimal Suklabaidya, Minister of Excise, PWD and Fisheries, he did exercise his official power, but the illegal quarrying after some pause resumed with the same vigour. It has been alleged that the range officer has been playing a role of connivance and that has added much teeth to the organized syndicate behind the virtual auction of forest resources. Not only that apart from the Kalain and Baleswar quarries, the syndicate has also been active in Kakra river where hundreds of boats can be seen engaged in extracting and loading the stones from the river.
For convenience, the members of syndicate have created temporary dumping grounds for stones so collected at Kakrakhal, Kandigram as well as in and around the areas of Kakra bridge. From these dumping grounds, the stones are ferried by trucks through clandestine passages. Behind this whole murky business is the alleged involvement of an officer of the rank of deputy ranger. An estimate says around 200 to 250 stone laden boats move through Kakra river every day. The forest personnel, it is further alleged, get their share of money on the basis of the total cubic metre (cm) of stones loaded in a boat.
Another information is that each truck has the capacity to carry 10 to 12 cm of stones. Moreover, around 20 numbers of 407 trucks are also engaged in this business. Such truck can carry 4 cm stones. The entire operation goes on without any permit through ‘mage system’. How can trucks move unhindered when there are check points at strategic locations? It is learnt that the MLA of Katigorah Amar Chand Jain has on several occasions pulled up the deputy ranger. The informed sources say that in respect of the tenders of the two units of stone mahal of Kalain, litigations are going on in Gauhati High Court.
Taz Uddin, a trader in stones, expressing his serious concern at the open plunder of forest materials said, “We will soon take up the matter with the higher authorities of the forest department for proper action against those involved in this racket.” Questions are being raised how can the deputy ranger be posted in one forest range years after years which has helped him to create a network of his own. On the other hand, ranger Debojyoti th stays in Silchar and can hardly be expected to discharge his duties faithfully that creates many a loophole.
People, tribals and non tribals, inhabiting the villages of Mempunjee, Lakhicherra, Khasiapunjee, Malidahar tribal village, Kalaincherra, Baleswar, Mejaanta TE colony, Kumapara colony, Bumbaithal Khasiapunjee as well as several NGOs have raised questions about the modus operandi of Debojyoti th, range officer of Kalain. The ubated quarrying has started playing havoc with these settlements as the soil is fast loosening. The people have decided to stage protest demonstration before the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Karimganj on a date to be fixed later on said Ibazul Haque Laskar, working president of Krisak Club, Kalain. They also plan to meet Promila Rani Brahma, Minister of Forest, at Dispur. Debojyoti th when contacted on these allegations said, “Earlier this kind of illegal activity was going on. Now, this has come to a halt.” But, a visit to Kalain tells the truth.