Assam: Stone mafias disturbing eco-sensitive zones near Sonachara rivulet

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Heightened activities of stone mafia gangs have been noticed of late in the Sonachara rivulet area under the Udharband forest range in Cachar district of Assam.

These gangs are illegally extracting stones from the Sonachara rivulet bed in areas that are near eco-sensitive zones.

The Sonachara rivulet falls under the Indranagar forest beat, which is very close to the Borail Wildlife Sanctuary. Stone quarrying is strictly prohibited in these areas due to the presence of nearby eco-sensitive zones. Also, there are no government-authorised stone quarries in this region due to the same reasons.

Allegations were levelled against the forest department for its indirect involvement in these mafia operations. Also, Ramu Chetri, a close aide of the ex-MLA of Borkhola, is allegedly involved in these illegal stone quarrying operations in the rivulet.

It has also been claimed that Chetri at his own will recruits many labourers to extract stones from Sonachara, which are then carried to different places in his truck.

Along with Chetri, two other persons named Purnam Deb and Ajay Deb are also allegedly involved in these illegal activities, as per sources.

The Udharband Range’s forester Kamalendu Das has confirmed that illegal stone quarrying is happening in the Sonachara rivulet.

He added that the forest department had taken action against Chetri many times before, his truck was also forfeited, and he was fined aw well, but nothing could stop his misconduct.

It is alleged that Chetri is succeeding in his misconduct by internally ‘managing’ the forest officials who are deliberately ignoring the situation.

Divisional forest officer of Cachar, Tejas Mariswamy, told IANS that these allegations are true to some extent, but he claimed that the amount of stones being taken away is very less, which are carried on bicycles, not truck.

He also said that the forest department is trying to catch the culprits. The rivulet areas are very near to the eco-sensitive zones and that is why the government has not permitted quarrying stones from there, Mariswamy added.

However, a few images and videos that are in possession of IANS have busted the claims of Mariswamy, where it could be seen that stones are being taken away for the rivulet in a truck.

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