CUTTACK: Illegal mining is posing threat to the rich biodiversity of popular tourist destination Olasuni Hill in Jajpur district. Situated at Palai panchayat under Darpani tehsil, the hill is a major pilgrimage site and cultural centre of the State. The site has a cave at its pedestal where Goddess Olasuni is worshipped. A temple is also located at the top of the hill housing the tomb of saint Arakhita Das. It’s lush greenery is a major attraction for tourists.
Sources said illegal mining has become rampant at the scenic spot in the recent times. Murrum is being excavated from the hill illegally by the mafia thereby destroying the eco-system of the place.A week back, illegal mining was being carried out in a clandestine manner only in the night. Emboldened by lack of any action, the mafia now have started excavating murrum from the hill by using JCB machine and transporting the same through tractors during the daytime in full public glare.
On Tuesday, locals noticed murrum being excavated from the area just behind the Tourist Facilitation Centre and stopped the illegal act. It is being alleged that miners have excavated murrum from the eastern side of the hill in gross violation of mining laws and standard operating procedure.
Member of district council of culture, Jajpur Subhendu Kumar Bhuyan said the illegal excavation of murrum is posing threat to the trees on the hills. If such illegal mining activities continue unabated, the greenery and scenic beauty of Olasuni Hill will soon be lost causing irreparable damage to the local bio-diversity. Bhuyan, also the managing trustee of Olasuni Gumpha Development Trust, urged the district Collector to take immediate steps to stop illegal mining at Olasuni Hill.
Contacted, Darpanai tehsildar Pradip Kumar Sethi said on being informed about illegal mining, a raid was conducted at the place. However, illegal miner had already left by the time officials reached the spot. Necessary action is being taken against illegal mining at Olasuni Hill, he added.