Deep nexus: Swan, its tributaries hotbed of illegal mining in Una district : The Tribune India

Deep nexus: Swan, its tributaries hotbed of illegal mining in Una district

Deep nexus: Swan, its tributaries hotbed of illegal mining in Una district

Illiegal mining in progress on the banks of Swan in Una. file photo



Tribune News Service

Lalit Mohan

Dharamsala, July 24

Despite the fact that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken a strict view, illegal mining is continuing in the Swan and its 66 tributaries in Una district.

In a report submitted to the monitoring committee set by the NGT to suggest measures for checking illegal mining in the river, the district administration of Una has maintained that 60 leases have been granted for mining in the Swan. These include 28 to stone crushers and 32 as open mining leases from where the lessee can extract the minerals and sell these in open market. Of the 60, 52 leases have been granted on private lands on the Swan riverbed and eight on government land.

People living at Bathri on the borders of Punjab and Himachal are alleging that the mining mafia is destroying their lands by mining in the middle of night. Officials blame it on undemarcated borders of both states. Una district has become the hub of illegal mining as most of the material mined from the district flows to Punjab and Haryana.

As per the mining officer Neeraj Kant, mining has been banned on the Swan riverbed till middle of September during monsoon as per the orders of the High Court. This year, 329 challans have been issued against those resorting to illegal mining in the district and a fine of Rs 42,92,900 has been realised.

Despite that, tractor trolleys collecting sand from the riverbeds can be seen in Santoshgarh. Sources said the local political pressure and demand for mining material for construction works were the driving force for illegal mining.

SP Arjit Sen said the police had registered 97 cases of illegal mining this year and realised a fine of Rs 7,48,300 from the culprits. He said five trucks, 26 tippers, 63 tractor trolleys and 3 JCB machines had been impounded.

The SP said the police had also forwarded the details of some people involved in illegal mining to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). A request has been made to the ED that an inquiry should be held into properties acquired by people involved in illegal mining.

The enormity of the illegal mining in Una can be gauged from the fact that the police have raised a special force stationed in Una under a DSP to check illegal mining. Despite all this, the illegal mining is continuing.

The Mining Department has one mining officer, one inspector, two assistant inspectors and eight guards. Of these, two mining guards have been deputed on the check post at Bathri. The staff is inadequate for day and night monitoring of illegal mining operations.

Officials also highlight lacunae in the mining Act. As per the existing Act, if any vehicle or equipment is found engaged in illegal mining, the officer can issue a challan of Rs 50,000 to the violator. If the vehicle or equipment is seized two times, challan has to be sent to the court. However, no records are being kept on the number of challans issued.

Staff grossly inadequate

The Mining Department has one mining officer, one inspector, two assistant inspectors and eight guards. Of these, two mining guards have been deputed on the check post at Bathri. The staff is inadequate for day and night monitoring of illegal mining operations.

329 challans issued

  • Mining has been banned on the Swan riverbed till middle of September
  • This year, 329 challans have been issued to those involved in illegal mining in the district
  • A fine of Rs 42,92,900 has also been realised
  • Despite that, tractor trolleys collecting sand from the riverbeds can be seen in Santoshgarh
  • As many as five trucks, 26 tippers, 63 tractor trolleys and three JCB machines have been impounded, according to SP Arjit Sen

#Dharamsala #Environment #illegal mining #National Green Tribunal NGT #una

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