Jajpur: Many locals Monday alleged that illegal mining has been going on without a check at Manduka hill under Darpan tehsil limits in Jajpur district for the last couple of months.
Mining mafias have been smuggling murram, boulders and other minerals; local denizens alleged while demanding immediate steps to be taken to curb the activities.
With the administration not taking any action, mineral mafias have unofficially taken control of the Manduka hill. More than 20 mineral-laden trucks illegally transport the murram and boulders every day to different parts in the district and outside. If the prohibited activity continues at this pace, Manduka hill will be denuded, local residents said.
According to an official source, state Forest department had earlier requested the Jajpur district administration to declare the Manduka hill area as a reserve forest. The hill was then considered as a part and parcel of Asiha mountain range in the district.
Hundreds of saplings planted by the forest department in the areas surrounding the hill to develop it into a forest cover have gradually lost their existence, locals lamented.
On being contacted, Darpan tehsildar Pradeep Kumar Sethi said, “Raids will be conducted in the areas surrounding Manduka hill. Accordingly, actions will be taken against the miscreants.”
It is pertinent to mention, there is a temple of Goddess Nahakani atop the hill and Satyapir is also being worshipped on the other side of the temple. The state Tourism department had earlier identified Manduka hill as a tourist destination and sanctioned funds for developing the area as well as for its beautification. In addition, the hill has a large cashew plantation owned by the forest department.