Kaptipada: Ear-splitting explosions in illegal stone quarries here have been rocking areas near Dugdha and Sarisua Hills in the Kaptipada block of Mayurbhanj district. Continuous blasts in stone mines have made people here panicky. Meanwhile, the forest and revenue departments are blaming each other for the illegal mining.
Reports said around 100 unauthorized stone mines operate in these areas. Huge quantities of stones are mined and transported to neighbouring districts and states using forged permits.
The use of explosives for stone mining in the area has increased over recent years. Rampant mining of stone and the use of explosives have destroyed greenery and wildlife. Locals said elephants and other animals are flushed out of their habitats using explosives.
The people of Kalamgadia near Dudha Hill said that if they protest against illegal activities the stone mafia threatens them with violence.
Meanwhile, upset by the stone mining, people have taken up the issue with the sub-collector. Copies of their complaints were submitted to Baripada DFO, Kaptipada Ranger and the forest and environment departments.
In the complaints, people said that vehicles carrying stones have destroyed roads and that the blasts in mines have created fissures in buildings and houses.
People fear that accidents can occur at the Dugdha Primary School and Anganwadi due to the stone blasting.
Environmentalists and social activists have expressed concern about the problem, alleging that the administration has completely failed to control the illegal stone trade. The result is the government losing crores. Many trucks are carrying stones with just one permit slip, they pointed out.
The stone mining and blasts in Sarisua Hill have taken a heavy toll on the elephant corridor connected to Dalma Forest.
Villagers said the area has been identified as per the PESA Act 1996. As per an order of the National Board of Wildlife in New Delhi, no mining activities can be allowed within a 10-km radius of reserved forests. But this has been thrown to the winds here.
Baripada DFO Sayam Mallick said that action can be taken only if the areas where illegal mining is going on belong to the Forest Department. Kaptipada Tehsildar said that action will be taken against the mafia.