India: ASI evinces concern for illegal mining

India: ASI evinces concern for illegal mining

The Archaeological Survey of India has expressed concern over illegal mining activities in the Braj region of Rajasthan causing serious environmental pollution and damage to heritage structures.

In a letter to Rajasthan Chief Secretary Anil Vaish, ASI Director General C Babu Rajeev requested him to issue appropriate instructions to halt blasting of rocks and stone quarrying in the vicinity of protected monuments in that area.

The letter dated October 10, 2006 drew Rajasthan Government’s attention to a report sent by ASI Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, Jaipur Circle, which said that continuous blasting in the heritage hills of Braj in Deeg and Kaman Tehsils of District Bharatpur was causing serious environmental pollution.

The mining activities were also causing damage to centrally protected monuments like Chaurasi Khambah Temple at Kaman and Deeg Palace, the ASI Director General said.

”Besides, the area falls under the Taj Trapezium Zone, for which the Supreme Court has issued various directions from time to time,” he pointed out.

The letter has been submitted before the Supreme Court, which is seized of a PIL seeking direction to the ASI, Rajasthan Government and other authorities concerned to take all necessary steps to prevent forthwith all illegal mining activities in the Braj region.

The petitioners pointed out that ”˜Fisalni Shila’, where, according to legend, Lord Krishna used to play with his friends in his childhood, has develped huge cracks. They had earlier requested the court to ask the ASI to submit a report on the entire issue.

The court had in January this year issued notices to the ASI, Rajasthan Government and other respondents on the petition by Neelambar Baba and others. In their application filed through counsel John Mathew, the petitioners pointed out that after issuance of notices by the court, illegal mining activities had increased manifold as the mine operators were in a ”great hurry”.

The petitioners said if the illegal mining was allowed to continue, the purpose of the PIL would get defeated and it would cause ”irreparable loss and damage to ecology and the heritage sites in the region.”

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