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Assam: Villagers rally against destructive sand mining along Boko River, receive mixed reactions

Assam: Villagers rally against destructive sand mining along Boko River, receive mixed reactions

The region, falling under the jurisdiction of the Singra Forest Range, has been a focal point of contention over the environmental impact of mining activities. Range Officer Bhargabh Hazarika commented on the situation, noting that prior to the issuance of legal permits, rampant illegal mining had severely damaged the Boko River, benefiting only a select few.

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On World Environment Day, villagers from Gohalkona, Jongakhuli, Komaduli, Lepgaon, and Katholpara staged a significant protest rally in Lepgaon, demanding an end to sand gravel mining in the Boko River. Organized by the Border Area Development Youth Organisation, the rally also featured tree planting activities, drawing hundreds of participants, including women and children, in a day-long demonstration of environmental concern.

The region, falling under the jurisdiction of the Singra Forest Range, has been a focal point of contention over the environmental impact of mining activities. Range Officer Bhargabh Hazarika commented on the situation, noting that prior to the issuance of legal permits, rampant illegal mining had severely damaged the Boko River, benefiting only a select few. "The Gohalkona mahal was allotted under strict adherence to departmental regulations, transforming mining into a scientifically managed activity that has provided significant benefits to many poor people," stated Hazarika.

However, Hazarika also alleged that some individuals are inciting protests against the legal operations to revert to illegal practices, which would further degrade the ecosystem. In contrast, Jonson Sangma, President of the Border Area Development Youth Organisation, highlighted the community’s fears, stating, "The deep excavation using Poclain vehicles has not only polluted the river but also rendered its water unusable for daily activities and unsafe for livestock."

The organization submitted a memorandum to Bhupender Yadav, the Minister of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, on June 5, 2023. The memorandum detailed grievances against the sand mining activities, emphasizing that mining operations have extended beyond the GPS coordinates and depths specified in the legal agreements. These violations have led to a significant depletion of the river's water level, making it unfit for humans, domesticated animals, and aquatic life.

The villagers' rally underscores the ongoing struggle between local communities and industrial activities, raising critical questions about sustainable practices and environmental justice.

Also read: Water level drops in India, southern region hit hardest

Edited By: Nandita Borah
Published On: Jun 06, 2024