Palampur, July 21
A bridge on the Palampur-Hamirpur highway near Government Degree College, Thural, is on the verge of collapse. Large-scale illegal and unscientific mining has posed a serious threat to the existence of the bridge. The mining mafia has constructed a road below the bridge to reach the riverbed.
Villagers told this correspondent that illegal mining was going on in Neugal everyday. The local authorities were well aware of the situation but no steps had been taken to dismantle the illegal road.
The villagers alleged that the state agencies had surrendered before the mafia. Several tractor-trailers and tippers could be seen on the riverbed everyday extracting sand, stone, gravels and other mining material. The mafia had dug deep trenches near the pillars of the bridge, which had further weakened its foundations.
Local residents Varun Bhuria, Chander Mohan Gautama, Ashwani Rana, Surinder Rana, Rajesh Kumar, Munish Kumar, Nikhil and Arvind Kumar said despite a ban, the mafia had pressed JCB machines for illegal mining in the river. They had decided to stop the illegal mining if departments failed to act. They said that the river was considered the lifeline of the people as it feeds 100 water supply schemes in Palampur, Bhawarna, Sulah and Thural.
The villagers said local roads, bridges, irrigation channels, cremation grounds and village pastures had been damaged because of continuous illegal mining.
Rajiv Kalia, District Mining Officer, said his team raided the site and fined a number of defaulters. The Mining Department also dismantled the illegal road, leading to the mining sites. No one would be allowed to enter the Neugal for illegal mining. He also appealed to local residents to help the department in checking illegal mining in Thural.
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