A portion of the cave. Telegraph picture
Shillong, April 27: For some years now, ecologists and nature-lovers have been crying themselves hoarse over the threat posed by limestone mining to Meghalaya’s caves.
The first signs of the danger ahead are now beginning to show — India’s seventh longest cave in Cherrapunjee, Krem Mawmluh, has started caving in.
“Krem” means “cave” in the local language.
Alarmed, the Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association has moved the state government for a comprehensive policy to save the heritage.
Chief minister Donkupar Roy today said he has asked the chief secretary to take up the matter with “urgency”.
The cave-in has been caused by “blasting” for limestone by a state-owned cement plant.
The association said a section of the main trunk passage of the cave collapsed a few days ago and almost choked the passage to the rest of the cave.
“The association has no words to describe this heinous crime… When nature had taken thousands and millions of years to carve and develop this exquisite cave system, we, the people, with no foresight, no respect for the magnificent subterranean world we possess, have in a frenzied moment, foolishly destroyed this great cave of Lt Yule,” said Bryan Kharpran, the general secretary of the association. It was Lt Yule, a Britisher, who first reported the existence of Mawmluh cave in Cherrapunjee in the Bengal gazette in 1844.
If the government does not initiate any action, the association will send a letter to their lawyer in Delhi so that the issue of damage to the cave be formed part of a PIL to be taken up by the Supreme Court shortly, Kharpran said.
In a letter dated May 13, 1998, the association wrote to the state government, with copies marked to departments of tourism, industries, the cement plant MCCL, the State Council of Science, Technology and Environment and the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board regarding the need to preserve Krem Mawmluh. It suggested that limestone quarrying atop the cave system be stopped and limestone be made available from quarries elsewhere.