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| Last Updated:20/11/2018

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Quarrying leaves hill slopes in dire straits

 Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, October 10 2018: Even though official records claim that the State's total forest area has grown by 1.18 per cent (263 sq Kms), many reserved forest areas and hills are on the verge of total disappearance due to unchecked quarrying activities. Acting on a PIL, the High Court of Manipur has already directed the Forest and Environment Department to check and stop unlawful quarrying of earth from hill slopes. But it appears that the department has been paying little attention to the High Court's directive. According to the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) Dehradun on February 12 this year, the State's total forest area grew from 17,083 Sq. Km in 2015 to 17,346 in 2017.After Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, Manipur recorded the third maximum growth in forest area. However, due to wanton quarrying activities, many hill ranges have been diminishing fast at different places thereby putting many reserved forests in great peril. Substantial (hill) portion of Nongmaiching reserved forest has disappeared due to unregulated quarrying activities. Large depressions made by quarrying earth can be seen at some places of the reserved forest area. According to some local people, quarrying on hill slopes has been going on since a long time back. They said that not less than 200 truck-loads of earth are removed from the hill slopes everyday. Even though quarrying activities were suspended as the situation became precarious at a particular spot, the same activities have been shifted to another spot, they said and sought immediate attention of the authorities concerned to the irreversible damages inflicted on hill slopes and reserved forest areas due to wanton quarrying activities by private individuals. In the same manner, a large number of trucks and machinery are engaged in quarrying earth at Langthabal Heibok hills. Saying that their appeal to the private individuals to stop quarrying activities at the area fell on deaf ears, some local people of Langthabal too have appealed to the authorities concerned to check or regulate the quarrying activities. Rampant quarrying activities are visible to every passers-by at Waithou hills along Imphal-Moreh highway. A directive issued by the High Court of Manipur to the Forest and Environment Department said that if any individual or agency must quarry earth/stones out of sheer necessity, the total quantity of earth/stones to be quarried must be informed in advance and commensurate royalty should be paid to the department. At the same time, Forest Department should regularly check how much earth/stones have been removed. It is mandatory to obtain clearance from Forest and Environment Department and there must be proper environment impact assessment before taking up any project, mentioned the High Court's directive.