Livelihood as community service in Ganderbal
Ganderbal: Every morning, an army of 4,000 men reach Nallah Sindh in Ganderbal to do the daily work of dredging the rivulet. These men extract sand from the water body not for their livelihood alone but also as a community service to prevent their areas from flooding.
According to the Geology and Mining (G&M) department’s District Mineral officer, Mohammad Manzoor, if the Nallah’s dredging was not carried out, Ganderbal would be flooded every two years.
A devastating deluge ravaged the district in 1992, but since then regular manual dredging has kept the area away from further catastrophe.
According to one of the labourers, Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, who has been digging the sand here for the last four decades, of the 4,000 men at the site, around 1,500 do the work of extracting sand and gravel while the rest are truck drivers, builders, labourers loading trucks and others.
Last year, however, the G&M department stopped the manual dredging and dredged the rivulet using machines. This triggered a catastrophe because embankments collapsed and a truck driver was killed in the mishap, Manzoor said.
From then on, the practice of manually extracting sand from the water body has been resumed, he added.
He told Kashmir Reader, “If dredging would not take place, it would cause floods in the river after every two years.”
He explained that locals carry away the extracted sand and other material from the river to sell it later for construction purposes, bringing revenue to the government.
The sand from Sindh is in high demand in the Valley as it is considered the best for construction purposes for its quick consolidation.
According to truck driver Mohammad Ashraf at Gangerhama, where the sand is extracted, they have to pay royalty fee to the department according to different construction materials.
For gravel, the department charges them Rs 180, boulders Rs 160, soil Rs 150 and sand Rs 180. The drivers charge Rs 4,500 from a customer for a truckload of sand.
The water body is a source of livelihood for scores of locals, many of whom have been working there for more than four decades.
One such is 60-year-old Ali Mohammad Dar. He earns Rs 300 per day, he said, adding that his work goes beyond extracting sand as it also preserves the locality from the devastation of floods.