Palampur, April 28
Large-scale illegal mining near Thural has endangered a bridge over the Neugal river linking 50 villages of the area with Thural. Illegal mining is going on close to the bridge, which has become a matter of concern.
Despite the fact that the Mining Department and the police are well aware about the situation, they have no steps either to check illegal mining or cancel the mining leases. The mining mafia has also constructed roads below the bridge to reach the riverbed.
Will protect bridge: XEN, PWD
The matter has come to my notice and I will direct Assistant Engineer, Thural, to dismantle all illegal roads constructed by the mafia to reach the river bed. All efforts will be made to protect the bridge. —Executive engineer, PWD, Bhawarna
Several tractors, tippers and trucks can be seen busy upstream of the Neugal extracting mining material near the bridge in gross violation of the directions of the NGT. The tribunal had banned mining near the bridges in the state. The mining mafia has dug five to seven feet deep trenches near the bridge. The outer protection wall of one of the pillars of the bridge has also developed cracks and the bridge can wash away in the rainy season if no steps are taken to protect it.
Villagers say that the local panchayat has also lodged protests against illegal mining several times but the Mining Department has remained a mute spectator. Villagers have also approached the SDM and the Assistant Engineer, PWD, Thural, but no action has been initiated against the mafia and mining activities are going on unabated.
Information gathered reveals that the state government has not granted any lease for mining near the bridge but in the absence of any check, the mafia is extracting material from the riverbed round the clock with the help of heavy equipment such as JCB machines.
Munish Seghal, Executive Engineer, PWD, Bhawarna Division, says that the matter has come to his notice and he will direct the Assistant Engineer, Thural, to dismantle all illegal roads constructed by the mafia to reach the riverbed. “All efforts will be made to protect the bridge,” he adds. He says that illegal mining has become a lucrative business for the mafia and the government should bring in stringent laws to deal with them. Despite repeated efforts, District Mining Officer, Kangra could not be contacted.
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