Post News Network
Khaira, Oct 31: The activities of the stone quarrying mafia near Sarisua hill in Balasore district had waned following a recent warning from the Khaira tehsildar, but with the tehsildar going on leave, the stone smugglers have gone back to their old ways.
A few days ago, the tehsildar had warned unscrupulous elements through a public address system in the area against illegal quarrying and stone blasting. However, his absence is being taken advantage of by the stone mafia which is illegally extracting stones to be used in the construction business.
Residents of the villages on the foothills of Sarisua flagged their concern over the harmful impact of the illegal quarrying on the environment and warned that the hill, a key part of the local ecology, faced the risk of being levelled to the ground if the administration failed to curb the illegal mining.
The hill, sprawling over an area of 62 sq km, has been declared as an elephant corridor. The tehsil administration had closed 109 stone quarries in the area following the declaration.
However, after a hiatus, the stone mafia revived its activities in the area by carrying out stone extraction. Local environmental activists had earlier taken up the matter with the district collector and the sub-collector. Besides, some people’s representatives including MLAs had complained about the growing menace to authorities.
Taking serious note of the matter, the tehsildar and revenue inspector had made announcements through public address system and warned of stern action against those found to be carrying out illegal stone quarrying in violation of existing regulations.
Soon after the announcement, the tehsildar went on leave. Taking advantage of his absence, the stone mafia is carrying out extraction at a rapid pace and is transporting stones via the Kupari-Soro and Kupari-Ranital roads to other districts and parts of neighbouring West Bengal.
While such illegal activity is impacting the local ecology, transportation of stones through heavy vehicles have also reportedly left the roads in a bad shape.
Surprisingly, revenue inspectors in the absence of the tehsildar are not taking any action against the errant vehicle owners who are transporting the stones, it is alleged.
When contacted, tehsildar Debi Prasad Mohanty said he is on leave while sub-collector Ramchandra Palta said Markona tehsildar has been entrusted with additional charge of Khaira tehsil. Palta stated he would ask the tehsildar about the reason for not taking action against illegal stone quarrying and transportation.