Illegal extraction of sand, gravel deteriorate rivers, nallahs, irrigation canals embankments; officials clueless

People seek LG attention to curb this “illegal” trade

Srinagar, Sep 28: Locals from north to southern parts of Kashmir have expressed serious concern over the worsening condition of beds of rivers, nallah’s and irrigation canals as sand mafia is extracting sand and gravel from there unabatedly. Locals have appealed LG Manoj Sinha to take strict action as per law against the mafia who is carrying out this loot with officials of administration hand in glove.
According to reports , river embankments of Jhelum, Lidder, Sindh, Pohru (Kupwara), Kamil, Ferozpora (Tangmarg) Nigli, Khurshi, Frashar, Langate and others have got immensely worsened due to unabated extraction of sand and gravel by miscreants. The regular exercise of extraction has left people living in the surroundings of embankments concerned and have appealed LG led dispensation to take serious note of this mafia headed business and safeguard people falling in these areas.
Sources said that Department of Geology and Mining, Irrigation & Flood Control and Fisheries Department have taken deep silence over this illegal trade and have left people concerned into troublesome situation.
“This is a big mafia functioning under the patronage of officials”, sources said.
They added the extraction is mostly being carried out during dark while using heavy machines like JCB, tippers and tractors who ferry the extracted material to other destinations under the nose of higher officials.
Farmers of several parts of Kashmir told Kashmir News Service that due to continuous dredging, the water level is reducing day by day with the result farmers are facing tough time to irrigate their paddy fields. They alleged that the illegal actions of mafia are pushing farmers to convert their agricultural land into horticulture.
They alleged authorities of failing to rein the elements involved in illegal dredging despite seizure of hundreds of tippers and lorries besides fining lacs of rupees.
It is worth to mention that drowning incidents in parts of valley have witnessed spike due to pits made by illegal dredging.
People across north and south have appealed Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to take concrete steps in curbing this illegal exercise and book the mafia as well as those providing patronage within the departments.
Chief Engineer Irrigation & Flood Control (I&FC) Kashmir Iftikhar Ahmad Kakroo admitted the illegal extraction of sand and gravel. He termed the exercise a “big challenge” for the department and said if Geology & Mining Department and other will provide full support the day is not far when this mafia will be eradicated.
Meanwhile Director Geology & Mining Department Vikas Sharma said the department is fully alert and we are taking actions wherefrom complaints are coming.
He said we have District Task Force Committees (DTFCs) with Deputy Commissioner is its Chairperson while as SP’s are its members. “The Committee is alert and acting sternly with violators whenever complaints pouring in”, he said.
When asked about staff dearth, he said the issue exists in everywhere but it does not impact on the functioning of the department. (KNS) 

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