Thursday, September 09, 2010
‘Mining halted, but may begin anytime’
'Mining halted, but may begin anytime'
Aliader (Amreli): Abeaten track outside Aliader village leads to the excavated limestone and blackstone mines. Heavy rains have turned them into waterbody filled to the brim. Worse still, the walls have been excavated irregularly and threaten to collapse anytime, endangering the lives of human beings and animals.
All this within the prohibited 5 km periphery of the Gir sanctuary in the Kodinar area of Amreli district.
According to Balu Sosha, a social worker and former mines owner, a flurry of activities that took place before the murder of RTI campaigner Amit Jethava, has suddenly stopped especially because the media took a keen interest in the area. There is one thing common among the various mines that have been dug up, locals say. They allegedly belong to BJP member of Parliament from Amreli Babu Bogha Solanki.
AM reached the site
Nobody wants to be seen leading media persons to the place. Three persons who had assured AM correspondent and photographer of accompanying them to the site of the mines backed out at the last moment, either making excuses or not turning up at the last moment.
When AM team reached the site, there was no activity, but one got a strong feeling that isolated huts and houses along the beaten track belonged to informers of the powerful and feared politician. Shiva Solanki, nephew of Babu Solanki, has been arrested in connection with Jethava's murder bang opposite Gujarat High Court in Ahmedabad.
Sosha claimed the 5-km stretch is a buffer zone and mining activities in this region that include blasting of explosives, shifting of heavy machinery and the constant noise of the machines drive the lions out of the Gir sanctuary from time to time.
Sosha is close to Dhirsinh Barad, the local Congress MLA, and has been fighting against the mining mafia for several years now. According to Sosha, Dinu Solanki's writ runs large at Pishwa, Ghatwad, Harmadia, Yabalvad, Jamwada, Kausaria and the 15-km stretch where limestone and blackstone are found in abundance.
"He has three huge crushers of one tonne each for crushing limestone and blackstone," Shosha alleges. The mining of stones within 5 km of the Gir periphery is worth crores of rupees and many politicians are involved in this loot.
There are many who believe that the activities may have come to a halt, but will soon begin. There are cement plants and other construction material units waiting for the supplies and unless the state government takes stern steps against the mafia they will continue to harm and degrade the sanctuary.
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