Silchar: Along with coal syndicate, forest mafia is also active to exploit the natural resources illegally. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. But, the way things go on raises many a question. Who are behind the illegal quarrying across the river system of Barak? The mafias are well organized to continue with their business despite all the high tech talk of monitoring the illegal activities inside the forest ranges by the department. The Sentinel has brought into focus the illegal quarrying of sands and stones with spot photographs time to time, but with no effect.
Now comes the information from Kalain forest range in Katigorah constituency that mafias have pressed into service JCB machines to extract stones from the river bed of Baleswar river that flows down from Borail hills. Taking advantage of the darkness of nights, JCB machines are engaged to carry on extraction till sunrise. The indiscriminate digging and extraction in the river bed and all along the bank have adverse impact in the areas. Sounds of machines besides causing noise pollution have come to disturb the ecology and the normal life of the residents who are mostly Khasi people.
Upset and perturbed, Khasi inhabitants have come out in the open to protest against such illegal quarrying. Their passage for entry and exit from Baikampunji and even their patta lands are being gradually eroded. A resident of the punji, Christina Parhut, came forward to lodge complaint with the Gumrah police investigation centre. She has named two persons, Chandan Nayak and Kalyan Kharia, though there might be more involved in it. Following her complaint, Beat officer of Baleswar along with some staff made an on the spot investigation and talked to the residents about the problem. The beat officer found their allegations true and assured them this would no more happen. He also found large quantity of stone lying on the river bed extracted by JCB machines.
To speak out against mafia men is not safe knew Christina. She had to take into stride threats to her life. They even threatened to occupy forcibly her patta land. Some residents say the illegal quarrying is not confined to Baikampunji cluster of tribal villages only, it has expanded to the area of Ramkrishna Vidyapeeth. The state exchequer has to sustain heavy revenue losses on illegal quarrying of stones and sands. With some valid permits in hand, the mafias take control of large areas of rivers for their illegal activities. Tribals and non tribals now wait to see if the unauthorized quarrying gets a halt.
Also read: Cachar News