The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has written to the Assam government seeking an immediate ban on mining, quarrying and stone crushing in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape, saying it was seriously affecting the wildlife habitat, including that of tigers.
In a letter to the Assam Chief Secretary, NTCA has said that mining and stone crushing activities were seriously hampering the survival and conservation of tiger.
The NTCA, a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, also annexed a report regarding mining and said these activities were responsible for drying and siltation of several natural streams and rivulets that flow from Karbi Anglong hills towards the Kaziranga forests.
"Considering the destructive impact of quarrying/mining activity, all stone mining/ quarrying and crusher units need to be closed down immediately. If these destructive activities are not stopped immediately, then there is a high risk of Kaziranga National Park may lose its corridor and habitat connectivity with the larger Karbi Anglong landscape permanently.
"Lack of corridors and habitat contiguity for wildlife dispersal will have serious implications for long-term conservation of wide ranging species like tigers and Indian elephants of Kaziranga Tiger Reserve," the NTCA said.
The NTCA report was submitted to the state government in response to a complaint by wildlife activist Rohit Choudhury seeking action against illegal and rampant stone mining activities in the Karbi Anglong Hills adjoining Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and Tiger Reserve.
The complainant had alleged that significant environmental degradation and habitat destruction has been happening in the foothills of Karbi Anglong hills, which is a prime elephant habitat and also part of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve.
Suggesting a slew of measures, the NTCA has recommended constitution of a committee by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to review all permissions and clearances given to all stone crushing, quarrying and mining units operating in the KazirangaKarbi Anglong landscape.
"The Assam Forest Department may take necessary steps for preparation of Tiger Conservation Plan for core, buffer and corridor and for notifying Eco-sensitive Zone around Kaziranga National Park & Tiger Reserve," it said.
The NTCA also said that keeping in view the long-term conservation of mega herbivores like Indian rhinoceros, India elephant and mega carnivores such as tiger, "the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve boundary may be rationalised by including areas of Karbi-Anglong adjoining Kaziranga," NTCA recommended.
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