June 16, 2024

South Kashmir under the devastation of illegal riverbed mining!

South Kashmir under the devastation of illegal riverbed mining!

How can you imagine people who’ve put on alongside the road right from Rambi Ara (SIDCO) to Pulwama to Kakapora could sleep in the night intervals when there is a constant movement of loaded dumpers, tippers and tractors carrying boulders mined out illegally by L&T cranes and JCB’s; Mohammad Shafi a young entrepreneur said to the Awami Reporter. Patients who desperately deserve to be at comfort and peace are getting hunted up to the highest point due to the extra noise and undue sounds/lights coming out of these heavy vehicles which travel with God’s speed throughout the night intervals. With uncharmed face and eyes reflecting a given-up hope, Md. Shafi added that a thick section of our school going children opted for a distanced stay from their family members especially parents and migrated to the vestibules of relatives where they could at least carry their studies smoothly without getting disturbed by the unabated run of these heavy vehicles.


In the entire world, we would be the only unfortunate people of lesser God who have been deprived of this basic, human and fundamental right to sleep during the night intervals; Tariq Ahmad Wani a local youth said; Adding that due this unwarranted vehicular movement in every night, our kinders and elderly people get harassed up mentally too, resulting the mood swings and most of our family members have become the victims of tranquilizers (sleep inducing medicines). Wani narrated a tale of woe reflecting sorry; said that this portion of people who reside alongside of main road (From Lasipora to Pulwama) could not produce a single officer from all these years since this mining mafia has resorted to open loot.

Rambi Ara (Nallah) a tributary of the River Jehlum flowing through two South Kashmir districts – Pulwama and Shopian was viewed as ‘”Gold Stream” before 2016 by some people who put on near the stream while witnessing it more lucrative and extra rich in containing the minerals.
Over the last few years, rampant illegal mining across the UT of J&K especially in these two districts – Pulwama and Shopian by unlicensed contractors and violation of environmental guidelines by licensed players have left the public to live in the verge of wrack and ruin. This excavation of minerals in the visage of sand, gravel or boulders by a shrink of nicompoops has put thousands of human beings residing in the villages of Heff, Shirmal, Sheikh pora, Panjran, Achan, Petipora at ultimate risk, changed the topography of river and led drying up of farmlands. The hafazard loot at the nighttime has consumed the lives of few mining workers at some places and left some with anxiety, uncertainty, depression and other mental related issues due the lack of proper rest. More meticulously this section of countable men doing illegality has led a mighty war on the aquatic world by putting some organisms to the lip of extinction.

A recent RTI filed by an Activist in the office of DMO Geology & Mining reads that in the Rambi Ara flowing through Pulwama & Shopian, the department has allotted only 4 blocks on lease (one in Pulwama and three in Shopian respectively) whereon, the respective contractors (Leasee) are allowed to do mining manually neither beyond the assigned time which starts from 6AM to 6PM nor in the monsoon periods. Unfortunately, these orders/directions stay visible on mere papers while a mo of it is not being implemented in spirit.

There is hardly a day or a night where these miners wouldn’t come up with heavy machines like L&T cranes, JCB’s etc and extract minerals from our nearby Rambi Ara; Khursheed Ahmad Laway one of the surrounding inhabitants said. He further said that there wouldn’t be less than 500 vehicles (dumpers, tippers, and tractors) carrying this mining material who used to travel each night with the speed of light through the middle of inhabitants (human beings) and police posts leaving thousands of people including children and old to absolute unrest. Laway expressed extreme wondrament and felt more surprising while narrating this woe with a say, ” How can these heavy vehicles carry our minerals from Rambi Ara to some 20-30 kms while passing through so many police vestibules”. Adding that the minerals in the visage of boulders looted per night would be worth 75 Lakh to 1 crore rupees.
By this date, around 10-12 stone-crusher units are seen functional across the bank of Rambi Ara (Nallah) just adjacent to the Industrial area. An employee (requested not to be named) of SIDCO expressed surprise over the run of these stone-crusher units and said that the functionality of all these units are illegal. Neither do they adhere to the injunctions of the govt. nor the business standard upholded behind and they would always take patronage on illegal means. Every owner of these stone-crusher units has kept a L&T crane or two, with a number of dumpers just for the illegal mining and carriage, they could do during the night intervals, he added.

Rambi Ara stream irrigates thousands of hectares of agricultural land. The unsustainable and illegal excavation of riverbed minerals has been having a negative impact on the river ecosystem. This intensive extraction of sand and stones, the local agricultural land is rapidly sliding and flora and fauna continues to be damaged. Despite a ban by honorable J&K High Court and in view of monsoon periods, sand and bajri excavation from this Nallah flowing through South Kashmir across the Industrial Growth Centre Lasipora is going unabated. Locals blame authorities having nexus with this mining mafia. They hold the concerned DMOs responsible for this happening. Farmers living around the vicinity seem to be more dispirited and hopeless. Local youth feel more downcast with this illegal avocation appealing for an end to this unjust.

Bilal Ur Rehman is a freelance Journalist who writes on climate, corruption, gender and political issues.

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