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Posted at: Jun 8, 2015, 1:16 AM; last updated: Jun 7, 2015, 10:44 PM (IST)

Mining in Bageshwar may cause disasters

BD Kasniyal

Pithoragarh, June 7

Villages in the Pungar valley, the Nakuri belt and the Kanda region of Bageshwar district are facing a threat of environmental imbalances and its after-effects in the form of natural disasters as soft stone miners are indulging in unscientific mining in the area.

According to villagers, the miners are not only indulging in unscientific mining but were also not providing required facilities to labourers working for them. “The exploration in the soft stone area in the region has become a graveyard of fertile land and heavy gorges and narrow terrains have emerged in these once-fertile fields,” said Mahesh Pathak, a resident of Kanda village.

According to the villagers, illegal mining has exposed villages in the area to risk during the monsoon. Untreated pits get filled with rainwater during the monsoon and pose a risk to schoolchildren and women who go to jungle for collecting fodder for their animals. “Due to these pits left by miners, landslides are occurring in the area for the last 15 years.” said another villager Ram Singh Rathor.

According to the Mining Department, Bageshwar district has at present 64 leaseholder miners while four miners have been given prospecting licences. “Though it is mandatory to fill pits after mining, these leaseholder miners are leaving the mined area open without filling after extracting soft stones,” said Rathor.

He added the miners were at present blasting the area and using JCB machines to extract soft stones. The process was causing big pits in the area, and posing danger of landsliding and cracks in nearby houses due to blasting in nearby mines. “We have taken action against such miners and fined nine mining companies this year for violating rules,” said Rajpal Legha, Deputy Director of mining in the Kumaon region.

Meanwhile, the villagers have demanded that the government should send a team of experts from Dehradun to investigate the irregularities being committed by the miners and the damage being caused to the environment.

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