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SC panel ‘finds proof’ of illegal stone mining in forests of Bihar’s Rohtas and Kaimur districts

The CEC visited protected forests of Rohtas and Kaimur districts on Supreme Court’s order, passed while hearing a petition filed by Ghanshyam Narayan Singh, father of slain Shahabad divisional forest officer Sanjay Singh.

patna Updated: Nov 10, 2017 17:25 IST
Prasun K Mishra
Prasun K Mishra
Hindustan Times, Sasaram
Supreme Court,central empowered committee,CEC
Members of the Supreme Court's central empowered committee inspecting illegal mining sites in Rohtas district. (HT photo)

The Supreme Court’s central empowered committee (CEC) is said to have found evidence of illegal stone mining in protected forests of Rohtas and Kaimur districts in western Bihar.

The CEC, comprising chairman Jaya Krishnan and member-secretary Amarnath Shetty, visited protected forests of the two districts on Thursday on Supreme Court’s November 1 order, passed while hearing a petition filed by Ghanshyam Narayan Singh.

The CEC members reached Sasaram, 153 km southwest of Patna, on Wednesday evening and inspected the sites in southern hills adjacent to the Rohats district headquarters and in Chand block of Kaimur district on Thursday.

Rohtas divisional forest officer (DFO) S Kumarasamy, his Kaimur counterpart Satyajeet Kumar and mining officers of both the districts also accompanied the CEC.

Though no government officer was willing to come on quotes, reliable sources said the CEC found signs of fresh stone mining in hills opposite Tara Chandi temple and at two more sites near Gopi Bigha hills, about 5 km from Rohtas district headquarters, Sasaram.

At Baruna and Madariya hills in Chand block of Kaimur district, the CEC reportedly found evidence of fresh mining. The sites, on Uttar Pradesh border, had been photographed and videographed by the CEC, which had sought reports from Kaimur and Rohtas DFOs as well as district mining officers of the two districts, the sources said.

The committee will submit its report within two weeks, as directed by the top court.

Petitioner Ghanshyam Narayan Singh had earlier contested in the top court a Bihar government’s affidavit claiming therein that illegal stone mining had completely stopped in the region. He told the Supreme Court that large scale illegal mining was still rampant and requested it to send the CEC to verify the reality.

Ghanshyam Narayan Singh’s son Sanjay Singh was shot dead by Maoists at Rehal in Kaimur hills on February 14, 2002 for launching a crackdown against illegal mining and forest mafia when he was posted as divisional forest officer, Shahabad. The Shahabad forest division then comprised Rohtas and Kaimur apart from Bhojpur and Buxar districts.

Although the Supreme Court had in its order said the petitioner could accompany the CEC to the sites, Ghanshyam Narayan Singh declined to do so.

“I was treated as an onlooker and not a part of the team. The CEC visited the area identified by DFO and mining department and not remote hills in Tilauthoo where the illegal activity is continuing on a large scale,” he said, adding that he had sent a “written objection” to the CEC team and would also inform the SC.

First Published: Nov 10, 2017 13:42 IST