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Ahead of tiger shifting, complaints of illegal mining in Mukundra

Months after the NTCA gave green signal for relocating tigers into Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve, allegations of illegal mining in the forest area’s periphery has created a furore

jaipur Updated: Mar 25, 2018 22:55 IST
Aabshar H Quazi
Aabshar H Quazi
Hindustan Times, Kota
Rajasthan News
Allegations of illegal mining being carried out in Mukundra’s periphery has created a furore.(HT File/AH Zaidi)

Months after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) gave the green signal for relocation of three tigers into Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve, allegations of illegal mining being carried out in the forest area’s periphery has created a furore.

The matter came to fore after former state minister Bharat Singh wrote to the district administration raising concern over illegal sand and stone mining being carried out near MHTR in Kota.

“Recently one Om Prakash Tiwari approached me with a complaint that a stone quarry he owned exists on forest land in Khodyakheri village. The forest department, he told me, had put a ban on mining at the site some two decades ago following a Supreme Court. Tiwari told me that some politically connected people have been illegally mining stone from the quarry for the last 2-3 months,” Singh, who also heads the Hadauti Naturalist Society (HNS), said.

The quarry is situated less than 10 km away from the MHTR. It poses threat to a 24-hectare enclosure being developed in Dara block to help the tigers acclimatise with the habitat before being released in the wild. Singh said if villagers or illegal miners breach the enclosure wall, it would make the soon to be reintroduced tigers vulnerable to poaching.

“Wild animals coming out of the breached wall would reach the mining site where they might be harmed or killed,” Singh said, adding that the forest department should check such illegal mining before reintroducing the tigers.

He alleged that illegal mining sand was also being carried in Peetampura region, also in MHTR periphery.

Singh said that such areas outside the MHTR should be developed as grazing land for cattle from the nearby villages. “This would help avert man-animal conflict in future as villagers would then not have to enter MHTR looking for cattle feed.”

Senior vice-president of HNS, Abdul Haneef Zaidi, alleged that an illegal mine was functioning barely at a stone’s throw distance from MHTR in Bundi. “It was stopped by mining department last year but illicit mining of sand and stone is underway at several places near MHTR,” he added.

Reached for comments, chief conservator of forest (territorial forest), Kota, Indraraj Singh, said, “After receiving information, wildlife department’s flying squad reached the location in Khodyakheri a couple of days ago and stopped the mining activity.”

On allegations of mining in other areas outside MHTR, he said there are some pockets of land belonging to urban improvement trust (UIT), revenue department, and others due to which “confusion persists over the mining activity status”. But, “wherever such complaints are received strict action will be taken and mining will be stopped there”.

Located in the Hadoti region of south-eastern Rajasthan, the MHTR has been waiting for the big cats since its inception in 2013. MHTR is the third notified tiger habitat in Rajasthan after Ranthambhore in Sawai Madhopur, and Sariska in Alwar. The reserve was formed to provide a home range to the excess tiger population in Ranthambhore, which at present is said to have around 65 of the striped cats. The state government had recently sought the Centre’s nod for shifting the tigers.

First Published: Mar 25, 2018 22:55 IST