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Another village ravaged, miners dig deep
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AAP MLA from Kharar Kanwar Sandhu inspects an illegal mining site at Seonk village in Mohali. Tribune photo: Vicky

Another village ravaged, miners dig deep

Seonk, that houses Jayanti Dam and Jayanti Devi temple, fast losing its natural resources21 Jun 2018 | 10:05 PM

MOHALI: With more areas, that have fallen prey to illegal mining on the periphery of Chandigarh, coming to light, the murderous attack on forest officials has placed the spotlight on another village being ravaged by the sand mafia.

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Ishrat S Banwait

Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 20

With more areas, that have fallen prey to illegal mining on the periphery of Chandigarh, coming to light, the murderous attack on forest officials has placed the spotlight on another village being ravaged by the sand mafia. Seonk, the picturesque village that houses Jayanti Dam and the nearby Jayanti Devi temple, is the latest victim.

While the Majri-Khizrabad belt in the area has been depleted of most of its sand over the years, Seonk is fast losing its natural resources. About 2 km from the dam, a rough terrain inside the forest takes you to trenches extending over at least 5 km from where earth has been dug up. A visit by this correspondent on Wednesday showed fresh tyre marks in the area, indicating that the illegal activity is on.

The area that has been dug up is a rich source of sand as before the construction of Jayanti Dam, the rivulet used to flow through it. As the flow of the water was stopped towards the area by the dam, a large part of the area dried up. This made it vulnerable and gave birth to sand mining in the area.

While villagers in the area are scared to talk, Kashmir Singh, brother of Forest Block Officer Devinder Singh, who is in a coma after the attack, along with natives of Baghindi, his village, are vocal about it. They said while people in and around the area had tried to take up the issue with the authorities, no action had been taken on it.

Lone road to mining site made inaccessible

The lone road that led to the mining site has been made inaccessible by the administration as of now. A part of it has been excavated to prevent any four-wheeler to pass by. The DC confirmed the development and said it was a simple solution and would be used in other areas having single approach roads. However, the solution has come up only after a huge area has already been ravaged and an officer has had to almost pay with his life.

Trailers, not tippers, used to transport sand

While tippers were reportedly used in the Majri-Khizrabad area to transport the illegally dug up sand, the mafia in the Seonk area use tractor-trailers. Locals said the trailers were safer as these were used for various purposes and no one doubted that these would be carrying illegal sand.

Rs 50,000 compensation announced for forest officer, Rs 25,000 for colleagues

As Block Forest Officer Devinder Singh battles for his life at the PGI, the government has announced Rs 50,000 as compensation for him. His other colleagues who were present with him will be given Rs 25,000 each, said District Forest Officer Guramanpreet Singh. He said Devinder was in a coma, but doctors had noticed some improvement in his condition.

"Instructions have been issued that no department will set up check posts or go for checking without adequate police force from now on. The SDM concerned has been asked to prepare a report of the Jayanti Dam area. Implementation of directions has been an issue. The Mining Department needs to work better and stop infighting." — Gurpreet Kuar Sapra, DC, Mohali

"I do not have much information about this; the block officer should be contacted." — Tehal Singh, GM, Mining Dept

"I cannot comment on the matter as I do not have any knowledge about the incident; please speak to the GM."  — Simarjeet Kaur Dhillon, Block Mining Officer

"We are identifying geo-coordinates of the areas where sand mining has recently taken place. These spots can then be kept under check to prevent any further attempts." — Guramanpreet Singh, District Forest Officer, Mohali  

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‘No involvement of sand mafia’

21 Jun 2018 | 2:10 AM

MOHALI: While Seonk villagers have stopped talking to the media after a brutal attack on Forest Department officials, Kuldeep Chahal, Senior Superintendent of Police, says no sand mafia was involved in the attack and the accused were villagers, who were “trying to make some money”.

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