Authorities act as mute spectators
Umaisar Gull Ganie
Kulgam/Pulwama, May 18: Residents of different areas of South Kashmir Tuesday alleged that illegal extraction of sand, stones and boulders from water bodies and streams across southern Kashmir is going on unabated despite a ban on unauthorised extraction of the construction material while as authorities are acting as mute spectators.
Inhabitants of Khoshipora, Vessu, Damjan, Aharbal, Ashmuji, Manzgam, Shankarpora, Larkipora, Nowpora, Turkwangam, Sugan, Heff, Aglar, Wachi, Marhama, Lassipora and many other villages accused the authorities of inaction against the ‘vested interest elements’ who according to them resort to illegal extraction of stones, sand and boulders from Nallah Romshi, Nallah Vishow, Ranbi Ara Nallah and Nallah Sandran and other water bodies.
Sources told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), that when authorities are busy in dealing with Covid-19, various contractors and locals use machines to extract sand, stones and boulders in during night hours in South Kashmir’s Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama districts and passing through the notified COVID-19 Containment Zones which pose risk to their lives.
“The tractors, tippers and dumpers and other machines carrying these illegally materials including stones, sand, boulders are coming from COVID-19 containment zones which can prove fatal during this pandemic,” Danish Ahmad, a local from Shopian told KNO.
Another resident Abrar ul-Haq said that “excessive in stream sand mining is a threat to bridges, river banks and nearby structures”. “The illegal practice that is continuing from past several years has led to the decrease in water level in dozens of springs and streams, flowing through this area,” he said.
The locals appealed to the higher-ups of the concerned department to look into the matter and deal with the offenders strictly.
Notably, until the 2016 rules were enforced, riverbed mining in the erstwhile state was done by local miners over small plots of land through short-term royalty contracts.
But the new rules mandated that the authorities hold auctions for minor mineral blocks, measuring not less than five hectares in area, with leases granted for a minimum of five years.
“We are inviting the wrath of nature through flood and other natural calamities by destroying these precious resources,” said an environmental expert. The extraction of sand, stones and boulders not only cause loss in terms of resources but also changes the leveling of stream which shows its colour in floods, he said.
Meanwhile, an official from Geology and Mining Department, said it is “mandatory” for every extraction to have environmental clearance and the consent to operate from pollution control board before they begin work.
“We are making our efforts to stop all the illegal mining taking place and we are seizing vehicles and extractors every day,” he said—(KNO)