Locals from different villages of Pulwama and Shopian districts in Southern part of Kashmir, on Saturday, alleged that in gross violation of court orders, sand mafia in nexus with some Irrigation and Flood Control Department officials are illegally extracting sand from Ranbiara. The court has ordered a ban on sand extraction across the state.
Locals alleged that the authorities have miserably failed to curb the movement of machines and vehicles into Ranbiara for the extraction of sand. As a result, the embankments are getting weak and the risk of floods has increased.
Residents of Watchi, Litter, Rakh, Zahidbagh, Darbagh, Aglar, Nilora, Achan, Panjran, Heff and Lassipora said that illegal sand mining has been going on unabated across the villages.
“Movement of vehicles and other machinery for the extraction of sand weakens the fragile banks and poses threat to the villages,” said Shabid Ahmad, a resident of Litter. He alleged that dozens of tippers, tractors and JCBs have come into Ranbiara during day and even during night to load sand.
“We have every reason to believe that officials of Irrigation and Flood Control Department of Pulwama and Shopian are hand in glove with the sand mafia and are paving ground for such illegal acts,” they said.
The locals have appealed to Chief Engineer of Irrigation and Flood Control Department to look into the matter. “We brought the issue into the notice of the authorities concerned but despite assurances to initiate action against the erring persons, nothing has been done on the ground.”
“FIRs against illegal sand extractors should be lodged and their mechanical boats, JCBs and tippers should be seized so that such illegal activities will be prevented to safeguard the embankments of Jhelum,” another local resident said.
When contacted Executive Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Division of Kakpora and officials of Geology and Mining Department of Pulwama and Shopian, said that action has already been initiated against the mine mafia.
“We have lodged FIRs against them and have seized many JCBs. However, the arrested persons pay a fine of Rs 1000 only at the district court and get bail. Then they start the illegal activity again.”
“Locals must come forward and contact District Development Commissioners of their respective districts so that we can check these people, who are violating government and court orders,” they added.