Palampur authorities sleep, mining mafia restores unauthorised roads : The Tribune India

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Palampur authorities sleep, mining mafia restores unauthorised roads

Palampur authorities sleep, mining mafia restores unauthorised roads

An illegal road leading to the Neugal riverbed in Palampur.


Ravinder Sood

Palampur, June 9

The mining mafia has restored illegal roads leading to the Neugal riverbed. Last month, these illegal roads were dismantled by the Forest and Police Departments with the help of JCB machines following protest by the different groups that are fighting to protect the environment in Thural area.

Trenches had been dug on these roads to stop the movement of trucks, tippers, tractor-trailers and JCB machines towards the riverbed. Reports reaching here today said that the mining mafia — with the help of JCB machines — filled all the trenches and restored to movement of vehicles.

When villagers came to know about the development, they lodged a protest. Ashwani Gautam and Varun Bhuria, two local environmentalists, contacted the SP and DC, Kangra, Shailini Agnihotri and Nipun Jindal, respectively, and sought help from the police to fight the mafia.

Nitin Patil, Divisional Forest Officer, Palampur, said he had received reports from his field staff today. He would again dismantle all the roads tomorrow. “No one will be allowed to use the forest land for illegal mining. The area falls in the category of reserve forest. Therefore, no roads — illegal or legal — can be constructed without the approval of state or Union governments,” he said.

Despite mining ban in Neugal, mining in the river is rampant. The state government has stayed the allotment of mining lease on the directions of the NGT, but large-scale illegal mining and quarrying are going on unchecked in the Naun, Bairghatta Dhook, Dhaniara, Lahar and Umri areas of Thural tehsil.

The government had auctioned sites in Dhook, Dhaniara and Lahar areas in January 2019. The mining lease was granted only on one site. On another site, illegal mining is going on in the absence of any check from the mining authorities. Though the Mining Department has dismantled roads constructed by the mining mafia to riverbeds many times, these are restored by the mafia. Lack of coordination between the police and Mining Department has made matters worse.

Official sources confirmed that over 25,000 hectares have been affected by mining, quarrying and other activities in Dheera, Jaisinghpur and Palampur subdivisions.

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#Environment #illegal mining #Palampur

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