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Posted at: Jan 11, 2019, 7:10 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2019, 7:10 AM (IST)

HSVP land turns a haven for the mining mafia, again

Dig deep into 15-acre commercial site in Sector 25-A, Panchkula; local residents say miners acitve between 11 pm and 4 am
HSVP land turns a haven for the mining mafia, again
An aerial view of the mining site in Sector 25-A, Panchkula. File photo

Amarjot Kaur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10

A nearly 15-acre commercial site in Sector 25-A, Panchkula, has turned a haven for illegal mining and dumping industrial waste, with the land being dug as deep as 20 ft.

Though the MC had, in November, dug trenches to prevent illegal miners from entering the property owned by the Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP), formerly HUDA, the mining mafia has made a comeback, say locals.  The site is located right next to the Nandana choe and along Pir Baba Road and is about 500 metres away from the residential area of Sector 25.

Till November, the area was being used to illegally mine soil and gravel, and dump shredded plastic waste by paper factories in neighbouring Mubarakpur village of Punjab (which has several legal screening plants), about 8 km from the spot.

Residents, fearing a backlash from the mafia, spoke to this correspondent on condition of anonymity. “After a resident, in November, tweeted a complaint to Haryana Urban Local Bodies Minister Kavita Jain, the Municipal Corporation got the waste covered with soil and made trenches to stop trucks and JCBs from entering it. However, the menace has continued. In fact, the pits have started getting deeper,” said one of the residents.

A local resident said they did not notice the heavy mining machines in December, but the miners were back now and active over the weekends. “They run heavy machines from 11 pm to 4 am, sometimes even till 5 am,” said the resident.

When this correspondent reached the site, fresh impressions of JCB tyres and deep, irregular excavation of soil and gravel at several areas spoke volumes about the menace. A pile of plastic waste continued to smoulder, emitting a toxic smell. “Roads were built here in 2015 by the HSVP, but unchecked illegal mining and dumping of waste have resulted in a thick layer of sand gathering on them. Even the entrance road is broken,” said another resident.

On visiting Mubarakpur’s 1-km stretch, which hosts four petrol pumps, nearly 15 stone crushing and screening plants, and three paper factories, this correspondent saw a similar waste (such as the one at the mining site) being loaded in a truck at a paper factory from a hole in the factory’s bricked wall.

Slow action

Local residents said they had shot an e-mail narrating their concerns on November 6, 2018, to the Haryana State Pollution Control Board, the Panchkula DC, the HSVP, the Financial Commissioner of the Haryana Urban Local Bodies and the Personal Secretary to the Haryana Chief Minister. However, no action was taken at the time, and only a tweet to Jain had swung the authorities into action.

After Jain intervened, an official of the Haryana State Pollution Control Board, which is also located in Sector 25, visited the site and, suddenly, night mining stopped.

While illegal miners are back, even the pollution board has asked local residents to approach the Chief Minister. In its reply to the association’s email on November 6, the board, on January 3, wrote: “You are asked to file a complaint through the CM window portal, District Level Grievance Committee or otherwise through the Deputy Commissioner as per policy of the board.”

Mining Dept short-staffed, says officer

Panchkula district mining officer Deepak Kumar said they had been carrying out checks, but were short-staffed. “We caught six trucks nearly 20 days ago. I was informed about it (illegal mining in Sector 25) three days ago after mining had been carried out on the land. We have been checking the area,” he said.

HSVP seeks police help

NK Payal, HSVP’s Executive Engineer for Panchkula, on Thurdsay wrote to the Panchkula Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula Deputy Commissioner of Police and the SHO of the Chandimandir police station. In the letter, he wrote: “Illegal mining has been carried out in Sector 25 (part-III), reserved for commercial site, in spite of the fact that this office has excavated trenches on the roads for hindering illegal activities.”

In the letter, he has also highlighted that the illicit trade has also damaged other civic infrastructure, like sewerage, storm drainage, roads and water pipelines. The letter also states that mining is being carried out between 11.30 pm and 4 am.

Site located next to the Nandana choe 

The site is located right next to the Nandana choe and along Pir Baba Road and is about 500 metres away from the residential area of Sector 25.

FIR registered: DC

Panchkula DC Mukul Kumar, after meeting HSVP administrator Mukesh Ahuja and Panchkula Deputy Commissioner of Police on Thursday, informed The Tribune that an FIR had been registered in this regard. “We are taking a strict stance on the issue and the departments concerned have been informed,” he said.

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