Mining firm builds ‘bridge’ on Yamuna, authorities helpless

CHANDIGARH: The Irrigation Department is finding itself helpless to remove an illegal bridge on the Yamuna bed constructed by a mining company in Sonepat in disregard of ecology and threat of change of the course of the river.

Sushil Manav

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27

The Irrigation Department is finding itself helpless to remove an illegal bridge on the Yamuna bed constructed by a mining company in Sonepat in disregard of ecology and threat of change of the course of the river.

Sources said that the influence of a powerful functionary of the RSS, who is said to have interests in the company, was stopping the department to act and it was rather resorting to the game of passing of the buck with the Mining and Geology Department.

Sources said the Irrigation Department once tried to demolish the encroachment in February, but its officials were forced to retract due to the influence of the RSS functionary.

The Tribune has learnt that the mining firm got Letter of Intent for mining of sand from the Yamuna riverbed and from outside the river on 68.19 hectares on January 21, 2015, and it got environment clearance for it on December 15, 2015.

The company applied for permission to construct a temporary bridge on the Yamuna bed for moving of vehicles from one end of the river to the other, as the terms of lease awarded by the Mining and Geology Department specifically provided that before making any alteration of the site, the lessee needs to seek the government’s permission.

Its application was, however, rejected by the Irrigation Department in the light of a judgment of the NGT, which said no encroachments could be allowed to the lessee and in no case a bridge could be allowed.

Despite rejection of its application, the firm allegedly went ahead with the construction of the bridge in disregard of its threat to ecology and change in the course of the river prompting one of its competitors to move the NGT.

The Irrigation Department, sources said, wrote to the Mining and Geology Department against encroachment by their lessee, but the latter washed its off hand and said it was the responsibility of the former.

Sources said that the department had once made efforts to demolish the bridge with the police help, but it could do it only partially due to the influence of the RSS functionary and the company’s vehicles were still running on the bridge.

Anurag Rastogi, Principal Secretary (Irrigation), said the department had taken strong action after the fact was brought to its notice and demolished the bridge on February 15.

“Only two days back, it came to my notice that the company has again constructed the bridge. I have directed the officials of the department to demolish it and bring this fact to the notice of the NGT in the case pending before it in this regard,” Rastogi said.

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