Impoverished sand-miners defy ban orders
Impoverished labourers have started sand-mining and stone-quarrying works along Thoubal River in defiance of the ban orders issued by Manipur High Court on July 3.
“The court orders have robbed us of our only source of livelihoods that some of our families are on the verge of starvation; and so we are ready to face any actions from the security forces,” they said
On July 3, Manipur High Court had issued the Interim Order to ban illegal sand-mining and stone quarrying operations in all rivers of the State in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Thoubal River Conservation Committee (TRCC) which the court had taken up as a suo motto PIL.
Several labourers including male and female workers from Thoubal and Imphal East districts held a protest meet today demanding the revocation of the ban orders. The protest meet was at the Leirongthel sand-mining site which lies along Thoubal River.
A labourer who took part in the protest meet said, “Even though we respect the court orders, it has robbed more than 20,000 labourers of their only means of livelihood and this had led to several families facing starvation,” while narrating other economic problems faced by them such as the inability to pay for their children’s’ education amongst others
“Labourers are also human beings, and we can no longer bear to see the woes of our children and families,” he continued adding that that those are the reasons why they have resolved to start sand-mining and other activities in defiance of the ban orders. “Even if the police come to arrest us, we are ready to face them, he added.
He further stated that the unless another means of livelihood is arranged for them, the on-going activities will continue while also adding an appeal to the Manipur High Court to revoke the ban orders until they are provided with another source of income.
Another protestor, a female from Leirongthel said, “Pollution of Thoubal River is not due to sand-mining or stone quarrying, but it is a result of the blockage of water at Maphou Dam,” while protesting that no one can simply blame sand-mining and stone quarrying activities for the river’s pollution.
While stating that if the government provide the labourers with other means of livelihood, then they are ready to stop all activities, she also warned, “If those in power think they can force anything at their will, then we are ready to face them even with our own deaths.”
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