Nurpur, October 16
Notwithstanding the orders of the government and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that heavy excavators, such as JCB machines and Poclains, cannot be used for extracting mining material, the illegal practice goes on unabated in lower Kangra areas, especially at Mand area, in Indora subdivision.
Mechanised mining in the Beas riverbed at Mand and Chhonchh khud has become a major cause of concern. Environmentalists, social organisations and farmers have sought the intervention of the Himachal High Court to save the ecology and natural water resources in the lower areas of the district.
The underground water level in Indora has already depleted to an alarming level and the area has been declared a dark zone by the government.
Residents have alleged a nexus between mining mafia and government agencies as even the imposition of heavy penalties has failed to stop illegal mining.
As per the directions of the NGT and the government, the mining authorities are supposed to earmark the leased mining area with pillars carrying red flags. However, no such pillars are seen anywhere.
To act tough against offenders and stop illegal mining, the government had amended the Himachal Pradesh Minor Minerals (concession) and Minerals (prevention of illegal mining transportation and storage) Rules-2015 in April 2018. The fine was increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 5 lakh, but no provision for imprisonment was made.
Neeraj Kant, Nurpur mining officer, said the department had taken a serious note of the issue and written to the local authorities of Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd (HPSEBL) to disconnect electricity supply to one of the stone crushers.
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