JAIPUR: Despite crores being spent in the name of conservation and Project Tiger, illegal mining activity is back in full gear in the protected area of Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary.“Rampant mining is going on at Jaisinghpura, Malana, Goverdhanpura, Palpura and Jamwa Ramgarh, in spite of the Supreme Court’s 1991 order banning mining in the area. After SC’s order, 215 mines were closed. But recently, some of them have restarted activity in the middle of the sanctuary,” said Rajender Singh, the waterman of Rajasthan, whose NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh had filed the writ petition in the apex court.
Singh added that these villages fall in the protected area and are a rich reservoir of dolomite. “Nearly 30-40 mines have begun operation again, some of them run by leading names in the industry,” he said. According to Singh, mining had picked up in Project Tiger area’s buffer zones and was causing irreparable damage to tiger habitat and the sanctuary’s ecosystem. “Mine owners’ money and muscle power has made officials and politicians turn a blind eye to the illegal activity,” said Singh who claimed he was attacked thrice by the mining mafia.
Confirming Singh’s statement, Delhi-based Tarun Kanti Bose, who has done extensive research on mining in Rajasthan, said, “While public sector mines remain closed as per the apex court’s ruling, many mines in the unorganized sector have again started mining marble in the belt, which has good deposits.”
In villages like Tilwad and Tilwadi in Alwar, marble mining operations are taking place right in the middle of the villages on private agricultural land. Many large landholders in the villages are today keen on selling their agricultural land as they are getting high returns for it, he said. “Mining is expanding rapidly in an area which has some of the most fertile lands with plenty of water,” said Tarun.
Tarun said in all the big mines operating in Sariska, local people seem to be playing the roles of contractors and middlemen. They are also employed as cashiers and administrators. “Ranges in Sariska are covered with densely forested slopes, home to the tiger and other wildlife and an entire ecosystem. But it is fast dwindling with mining and other commercial activity,” he said.