Khurda: Illegal quarrying of sandstone in Naranagarh area of Khurda tehsil has been thriving for last several years.
Some mafias have been quarrying sandstone illegally (Baulamala stone) from a few quarries which fall under the ownership of Puri Srimandir in Naranagarh area.
They have been supplying stones to Ganjam, Nayagarh and many other places in the state, sources said.
It is learnt that Ranpur police in Nayagarh district has recently seized a mini-truck carrying sandstone illegally from Nararanagarh area and arrested five persons in this connection.
According to sources, Bhogapur, Kurumapada Jogamaya and Hadapada Gohia hillocks at Naranagarh have huge reserves of sandstone. All these hillocks are under the ownership of Puri Srimandir.
However, all these sandstone quarries have not been auctioned by the authorities concerned for last six years, sources said.
It is worth mentioning here that sandstone has been extensively used in the construction of Puri Srimandir and Konark Sun Temple. Besides, sculptors usually carve idols and sculptures from sandstone. Similarly, artisans carve various household goods and decorative pieces from sandstone. Many sculptors in cities like Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Berhampur used to source sandstone from quarries at Naranagarh, sources said. According to villagers, non-auctioning of sandstone quarries at Naranagarh has led to illegal quarrying activities in the locality.
The sandstone mafia have been quarrying sandstone illegally and supplying huge amount of stones to various places, they alleged.
The villagers claimed that shortage of sandstone has rendered many artisans of Naranagarh, Hadapada, Kudumapada, Jagannathpur Sashana, Bhogapur, Dhabalpur, Balapur, Bhoisahi and Dianka Patna jobless.
“Non-availability of sandstone has affected the livelihood of at least 500 artisan families in Naranagarh area. The administration should understand the situation and take immediate steps to auction the sandstone quarries.
Auctioning of the quarries can check illegal quarrying,” said a villager. Khurda tehsildar Shuvendra Samal said they have initiated process to auction sandstone quarries at Naranagarh.
“There is a proposal to auction the quarries in December. We will conduct regular raids to discourage illegal quarrying,” he added.