Srinagar, Aug 5: ‘Illegal’ mining of sand and boulders go unabated in different districts of Kashmir Valley. Local reports said that without any clearance from any department, illegal mineral extraction is going unabated in different districts including Kulgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag and Shopian, while authorities are acting as mute spectators.
People alleged that the officials are allowing some non-local companies to extract sand though these companies have not yet completed all the formalities. They said that the government orders are being violated and authorities seem helpless.
Inhabitants of Kulgam accused the authorities of inaction against the ‘vested interest elements’ who according to them resort to illegal extraction of soil, sand, boulders and other minerals.
Similar statements are coming from other districts of Valley. A group of people told news agency KNT that some people are extracting soil, sand and other minerals illegally from Karewaras and Nallahs but despite repeated requests no officer has taken any action against them.
They said that JCB’s can be seen openly extracting the soil and sand and when asked they say they have permission for doing this.
Pertinently, for the first time, a majority of the sand mining contracts along the Jhelum and its tributaries in Kashmir have been bagged by non-locals.
“It seems that the authorities are hand-in-glove with these elements as no action is being taken against them,” the locals alleged and said that the noise of tippers, tractors and other machines used for extraction is not letting them to sleep,”
A local resident from Baramulla said that due to illegal sand an boulder extraction, the area has become vulnerable to floods due to the weakening of the embankments of the Jhelum. “The sand mafia is jeopardizing the lives of people by excavating sand,” he said.
There are growing environmental concerns as more and more extraction of sand from the Jhelum river bed has destroyed the natural habitat of fish.
An official said that strict action will be initiated against those who resort to illegal mining. He said the Geology and Mining Department, which looks after the mineral blocks along the Jhelum, earned huge revenues by offering the contracts of sand blocks to non-locals.