Saturday, June 9, 2012

MoEF to Act Against Illegal Industries Around Kaziranga National Park

A dead Indian one-horned rhinoceros

It has been recently announced that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has been asked by the National Green Tribunal to take action against illegal industrial units operating in the "No Development Zone" around Assam's Kaziranga National Park. However, the Tribunal also asked the ministry to acquire permission before taking any "coercive action" against three tea processing units functioning within the zone near the Numaligarh Refinery near the national park. Earlier, a bench had held back the ministry from granting any approval to stone-crushing or other industrial units in the area of the park. Now, that same bench has asked the ministry to take action against other units in the zone. The tea processing units approached the Tribunal to be made a party, and to have their testimony in a case filed by Rohit Chaudhary, an Assam-based activist who is looking for directions to halt quarrying and stone-cutting units around Kaziranga. In July 5, 1996, Mr. Chaudhary had asserted large-scale violation of a ministry notification which declared an area within a radius of fifteen kilometers from the Numaligarh Refinery near Kaziranga as No Development Zone. He also asserted unlimited mining and quarrying activities in the No Development Zone around Kaziranga and the Karbi-Anglong Elephant Reserve. The Tribunal had earlier instructed all industrial units to maintain a status quo, and on February 15th, prevented the ministry from allowing approvals to industries or renewing the licenses of existing ones functioning there. But on April 22nd, the Tribunal inquired a report from the ministry on industries operating in the park's vicinity and asked the ministry to carry out a survey. Mr. Chaudhary has inquired directions to the MoEF and the government of Assam to pinpoint stone-crushing and other industrial units functioning without approval in the No Development Zone, and to take necessary action against them. The answers to Mr. Chaudhary's inquiries under the RTI (Right to Information) Act showed that there are nineteen stone-quarrying units in the area and ten of them are within five kilometers of Kaziranga, while the remaining are situated between five and ten kilometers away from the national park.

I sure hope that the MoEF will do whatever it can, in order to prevent these industrial units from further exploiting the region near Kaziranga. I also think that part of the effort to put a stop to these units is to investigate whether they have any connection with the Mafia Raj. The reason is because this network of criminals are known to own various mining and stone quarries across India wherever there is a rich abundance of minerals. And from what is seen in the case of stone-crushing units and quarries around Kaziranga National Park without approval, that just might be the possibility. This is why it is very crucial to address the problem of industrialization operating without permission around Kaziranga, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If such destructive activities continue, then it would loose that prestige and the impact would also affect the tourist industry in the national park.

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