A report by the divisional forest officer has underlined the imminent threat that Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and prime one-horned rhino habitat, faces from unscientific stone quarrying in its vicinity.The 884 sq. km. Kaziranga is also a tiger reserve with one of the highest population densities of the striped cat. The National Tiger Conservation Authority had on April 20 asked the Assam government to immediately stop all mining, quarrying and stone crushing activities in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape.The southern edge of Kaziranga adjoins the hilly Karbi Anglong — the park’s animals flee there during high floods.“There are numerous waterbodies and streams flowing down the Karbi Anglong hills and joining larger streams, including the Diffolu river, to flow into the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve area. The stone quarrying process is affecting the water quality and thereby affecting the wildlife habitat in and around Kaziranga, and the environment as a whole,” the June 26 report by the DFO of the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division to the National Park’s director said.Recently, environment activist Rohit Choudhury obtained this and other similar reports by officials submitted after field visits. He had petitioned for them via the Right to Information Act.“The [stone quarrying] process will also affect soil quality and will have an impact on the vegetation and agricultural fields downstream and around the area,” the DFO’s report said, adding that the threats had been outlined in a letter to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council in October last year.Natural springs The report further said the unscientific quarries were blocking natural springs originating from the hills and physically changing the course of water flow. “There is also a higher degree of siltation and increase in turbidity of water due to the carrying of unfertile soil from the quarrying sites by the rains during monsoon season,” it said.“The quarrying process is also causing noise pollution in and around the southern boundary of the Bagori, Kohora and Burapahar ranges [of the KazirangaNational Park]. Noise pollution is adversely affecting animal behaviour and their movement in these areas,” the report said.B.V. Sandeep, assistant conservator of forests, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, had made similar observations in his report on February 28.“These reports are evidence that the Assam government ignored the NTCA recommendations and made a mockery of Kaziranga’s World Heritage Site tag by not taking any action to close down the illegal stone quarries operating in the Karbi Anglong hills within 10 km from the boundary of the National Park,” Mr. Choudhury told The Hindu.