ROURKELA: Illegal stone quarrying continues unabated in Sundargarh district posing environmental hazards and causing loss to the State exchequer.
Administrative sources said there are 118 stone quarries in the district. A few of them have lease licence while the rest have been granted permission through auction for one year by the tehsildars who are empowered to allot stone quarries which come under the category of minor mineral sector. But there is no official record of illegal quarries in the district.
According to unofficial sources, Panposh sub-division is at the top of the illegal quarry list with as many as 40 quarries dotting forest areas under Lathikata, Kuanrmunda and Bisra blocks of the district.
Locals of Kuanrmunda block said eight illegal stone quarries are operating in the forest areas of Kalosihiria, Besrapada, Sagabeda and Jhitiara. Due to the quarrying activities, villagers face air and sound pollution besides deforestation. “Hundred feet deep pits are left unattended in the forest area,” a villager complained.
On February 1, 2013, two workers were killed in powerful explosions in an illegal stone quarry at Garjan area under Brahmani Tarang police limits of Lathikata tehsil.
Meanwhile, Rourkela forest division officials seized two compressor machines used in quarrying and as many tippers laden with 400 cubic feet of boulders in a raid in the revenue forest near Kalosihria under Kuanrmunda forest range on Friday.
Rukdhan Bhokta (22), Shankar Bhokta (25), Saran Bage (26) and Sanjit Surin (20) were arrested from the spot. However, proprietor of the illegal stone quarry could not be arrested.