60 families face eviction fears

Jajpur: Efforts by stone smugglers to extract black granite stones from the historical Balarampurgad village under Dharmasala block here has raised eviction fears among more than 60 families, a report said Sunday.

The villagers lodged a complaint with the Jenapur police station.  A team led by ASI Ramesh Chandra Sahani visited the village and started an investigation.

The villagers approached the police after the smugglers started the construction of a road with the help of a machine two days back. 

The hilltop residents apprehended that the bid by stone smugglers to extract black granites in the village might render them homeless and evict them from their native land, where they have been living since generations.

The locals fear that the only pond in their village which is their lifeline might dry up and the explosion will blew up their houses including the ancient Jagannath temple. The toxic fumes generated during mining have already caused diseases in the village.   

The villagers who are already hit by air and water pollution are living under constant fear after the stone smugglers made their entry into their villages. 

They alleged that the stone smugglers in connivance with some political leaders have been regularly extracting stones from the hills by blasting dynamites notwithstanding a stay order from the Orissa High Court forbidding stone extraction from the hills.

Sources said the illegal stone extraction from the hills has already caused much destruction in the area. The Balarmpur reserve forest is on the verge of extinction while two labourers have been crushed to death earlier.

However, the administration, police, forest and revenue department officials are yet to wake up to the problem and stop illegal mining in the area.

The Orissa High court, acting on a petition from the residents, directed the Jajpur collector, SP, Athagarh DFO and Dharmasala tehsildar to stop illegal stone mining in the area February 26, 2016. However, little has been done since then to stem the rot.  

This has happened as the revenue officials in Jajpur and Dharmasala went against the Indian Forest conservation Act-1980 and granted lease to some unscrupulous traders for stone mining. As a result, the stone smugglers illegally blasted dynamites to extract stone from hills for supplying to various stone crusher units.

The groundwater level has gone down much to the discomfort of the residents while houses and the Jagannath temple, community hall Ramlakhsman Tungi, Patitapaban and Balunkeshwar temples might get affected.

Two other temples at Saroi and Kusunpur villages on the north-east of Balarampurgad might also get affected, they pointed out. PNN

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