Protest against mining ban in Mnp

Protest against mining ban in Mnp
Quarry workers staging protest against ban on sand and stone mining. (NP)
Correspondent IMPHAL, Jul 22 | Publish Date: 7/22/2019 12:19:05 PM IST

Hundreds of quarry workers Monday staged a protest against the ban on sand and stone mining at Sekmai in Imphal West district.

Thousands of workers whose livelihood were dependent on sand and stone mining in the river beds were now out of jobs due to the ban imposed by an order of the High Court of Manipur.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Kh Nobin of the High Court of Manipur on July 2 last passed an order banning illegal sand quarrying and related activities that are polluting the rivers in Manipur.

Since the passing of the judgment in response to a PIL, workers who engaged in the mining activities have been protesting, demanding alternative source to earn their livelihood.

They had even threatened to launch intense forms of agitations if the state government fails to come with a positive response to address their grievances at the earliest possible period.

Joining the chorus demanding alternative livelihood source, hundreds of women and men in Sekmai area of Imphal West district who were engaged in sand and stone quarrying on the river beds of Sekmai River Monday staged a sit-in-protest at Sekmai Bazar.

“Don’t snatch the livelihood of workers, save the life of workers,” they cried.

They lamented that the closure of the quarries at Sekmai River took a toll on their livelihood. 

They alleged that due to the closure of the sand and stone mining, their source of livelihood has been snatched and they were left jobless.

While demanding that the state government come up with a policy to address their grievances, they alleged that the ban on mining of sand and stone has totally contradicted with incumbent government’s commitment of poverty alleviation.

The ban on mining amount to reducing the poor families to poorest and making the rich people richer, the protestors alleged while pointing out the import of sand and stone from outside the state was not covered by the ban.

They have no capacity to challenge the order of the court but the sudden closure of sand and stone mining works was highly condemnable, the protestors said.

They added that government should have made alternative arrangement before closing the quarries.

By remaining silent for such a long time without any positive measure to address the plights of the workers, government has shown its attitude of not taking the grievances of the poor workers seriously, they lamented.

Stating that the workers have also the right to live, the protestors threatened that if the state government failed to come up with an alternative measures to address their plights, they will be compelled to take up intense forms of agitations.

Mention may made that the High Court of Manipur order a total ban mining of sand and stone from all rivers in Manipur after carefully study a submission by Thoubal River Conservation Committee on the impact of the rampant sand and stone mining activities to the river. 

The court had taken suo motto cognisance of the matter of causing the river pollution and making it unsafe for human consumption and other domestic purposes.

The High Court, however, exempted license holders and firms possessing lease agreements from the purview of the ban.

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