London, July 26 : Rare plant fossils in a district of Jharkhand state in India, dating back between 68 million years and 145 million years, are being decimated in hundreds of crusher machines that are reducing them into stone chips to be used in road construction.
These plant fossils are scattered all over 2,600 sq km in the Rajmahal Hills in Sahebganj district of Jharkhand state.
Examples of these Jurassic age plant fossils - known as Rajmahal Flora - are to be found in many museums across the globe.
But, this wonder of nature is fast disappearing and geologists say the fossils may soon all be gone.
According to a report by BBC News, the problem lies in the fact that the state government of Jharkhand has given out a mining lease in the area to private companies, who are practically blowing up the hills to obtain rocks which are then crushed to make stone chips.
"This is what is worrying us. The treasure which nature has conserved for millions of years would be wiped out in a matter of months if an immediate ban on stone mining is not imposed in the area," said Syed Raza Imam Rizvi, head of the geology department at Sahebganj College.
"Those who have the mining lease are cutting down the hills. All the hills need to be conserved for research," he added.
According to Rizvi, "If proper excavation and study is carried out, we could also find the fossils of reptiles and other animals which existed during the Jurassic and the Triassic age. Maybe one day we can even find a fossil of a dinosaur here."
Since many villages in the region are inaccessible, the authorities decided to build a road to Tara village, where rare fossils lie scattered around.
The road has been christened "Fossil Road", but geologists say what is shocking is that the stone chips used for constructing the road are actually fossils.
According to Pujan Singh, a forest department official in the area, rare fossils were being used for road construction.
"The entire Rajmahal Hills are full of fossils of plants and reptiles. Those who have taken the mining lease don't care about it. They don't know about it," he said.
"The fossils are finding their way into the crusher machines that are reducing them into chips. We have tried to stop it, but there is very little that we can do. The mining department has allotted them a lease," he added.
Geologists have said that the authorities need to act immediately to save from destruction the evidence of a world that existed millions of years ago.
According to geologist Nitish Priyadarshi, "The Rajmahal Hills need to be conserved in their natural habitat to facilitate further studies and research. If mining activities continue at such a pace, everything would be destroyed and the generations to come will never forgive us."