Illegal sand mining in Ganderbal threatens lives

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SRINAGAR: Residents of Shilwat-Sumbal area of north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Friday expressed concern over the illegal sand mining on the river Jhelum by some influential people of the area.
Locals accused officials of Irrigation and Flood Control Department of being hand in gloves with sand-miners that allows them to carry out sand extraction at various spots on the stretch.
A local resident told Kashmir Reader that due to illegal sand extraction the area has become vulnerable to floods due to the weakening of the embankments of the river. “From last two months sand mafia is jeopardising the lives of the residents of Gozhama, Batpora and Shilvat by excavating sand in the name of dredging,” he said.
The resident said people of the area were happy to see government taking initiative to strengthening the embankments of the river in their area after 2014 floods. However illegal sand mining has jeopardized the efforts of government.
“Instead of taking into consideration the disastrous floods of 2014 that touched the upper limits of embankments, it was expected that administration would come to the rescue by repairing the embankments,” he said adding “But instead some ruling party members are taking undue advantage of their political influence and affiliations by digging the sand and depositing the same at Wakoora,Saloora ,Batwina and Gozhama.”
Shafi Naqeeb, a social activist and a resident of the area expressed concern that authorities failed to stop illegal sand mining and by allowing violators to use heavy machines in the Jhelum. “The residents appealed concern authorities several times to conduct inspections of all embankments right from under construction bridge at Shilwat order to see what is being done in the name of dredging,” he said.
Naqeeb added that the Deputy Commissioner visited the area and stopped the work that was weakening the embankments of the river. “Once the Deputy Commissioner left the spot illegal mining resumed next morning,” he said.