Bhopal: A senior forest officer has written to the Madhya Pradesh government state chief secretary alleging that stones worth more than 15,000 crores has been illegally mined in the Gwalior forest division during the past 10 years.
The officer who got forest officials to shoot a video of the illegal mining activity alleges he was suspended on grounds of indiscipline two days after he turned whistleblower and wrote about the visual evidence to his superiors.
The market value of the stone is assessed at more than 15000 crore. Under Indian forest laws, mining is not allowed in the forest, unless special permission has been taken. Forest Officer Azad Singh Dabbas, who took action against the illegal mining mafia, has now been suspended. He claims he is being victimised for being a whistleblower.
Azad Singh Dabbas says, "I don't know why I was suspended. I was doing my duty and working against illegal mining. I wrote to the authorities that the illegal mining activity was done with the patronage of the forest conservator and the Range officer."
Dabbas estimates that more than 10 crore cubic meters of stone has been illegally mined from the Gwalior forests in the past 10 years. CNN IBN asked the state forest minister how illegal mining at such a large scale was allowed in the first place. An enquiry is all he offered while admitting that there were no corruption charges against Dabbas.
Sartaj Singh, Forest Minister, Madhya Pradesh, says, "We will order an enquiry and look into whatever has been revealed by the officer."
Azad Singh Dabbas has not just blown the lid from rampant illegal stone mining that is happening in Gwalior. In his letter that was written two days before his suspension he has also talked about the illegal sand mining in neighbouring Morena district that is causing serious survival problems to the endangered Ghariyaal.