Punjab

Exploitation of Sutlej banks by mining mafia continues unabated

October 31, 2018 07:51 AM

The mining mafia has dug around 40-foot-deep pits on the Sutlej bank near a bridge on the Garhshankar road. Three pathways have been laid to ferry sand and stone from the digging site to various stone crushers.

District authorities, including the police and officials of mining, drainage and revenue departments, seem to have turned a blind eye to the large-scale illegal mining. Villagers say a large number of JCBs and tippers can be seen loading the material every night.

Gurcharan Singh of Agampur village says around 100 tippers can be seen transporting sand and stone every night.

District Deputy Commissioner Sumeet Jarangal conducted a raid late last evening following a directive by the National Green Tribunal. RTI activist and local lawyer Dinesh Chadha had moved the tribunal.

Two earth-movers and a number of tippers involved in illegal mining were seized.

 

Dozens of deep pits can be seen in the area. Big mounds of sand were also visible at many places.

Three pathways have been created by putting cement pipes in the river to ferry material from one bank to the other. Residents say these pathways were washed away a few weeks ago when the area witnessed heavy rains, but these were re-laid immediately.

Dinesh Chadha said the mafia had got emboldened due to lackadaisical attitude of the district administration. No action was taken against two contractors of Baihara and Swaraha quarries even after a deputy commissioner’s report indicted them for violating mining norms last year. At the most, drivers of tippers and other machinery were fined in the name of action against the mining mafia while the big fish remained untouched, he alleged.

Deputy Commissioner Jarangal said he had asked the police to take action against those whose vehicles were found involved in illegal mining. Revenue officials were asked to verify owners of the land where illegal mining was being done, so that they could be prosecuted as per the law. The Mining Department was asked to check records of stone crushers that received material mined from the area, he said.

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