Air, water polluted, roads devastated, mining going on ‘beyond limits’
Uri: Residents of Salamabad Dachina village in Boniyar area are complaining that unabated gypsum mining in the area has polluted its air and water bodies besides devastating connecting roads.
Twelve kilometres from Boniyar town, the 5000 plus residents of Salamabad Dachina live in the lap of a hill where Neelam Valley Gypsum mill is busy in mining the white mineral.
The residents said that the water bodies in the area, including the irrigation water, as well as the ground water, is polluted by the miners using machines. Moreover, the road connecting the village to town is dilapidated due to the traffic of heavy trucks.
Locals said that the government had given the permission to diggers up to a certain limit but from eight months they have “crossed all limits” and are digging the whole hill pass, making the villages prone to accidents and erosions apart from polluting the environment.
A resident, G M Khan, said that the mining has made their life dejected.
“In the lap of hill we live is being dug to mine gypsum at the cost of our lives. Trucks and tippers loaded with gypsum shake our homes, even during nights and we feel like a quake. During the days the dust is trolled into our homes by vehicles running through the village. Many houses close to the road have got cracks on the compound walls,” Khan said.
Another resident, Abdul Khaliq said that their paddy fields were affected as the water for irrigation comes from the hill channels polluted by the mining. He said that even drinking water smells foul and is unsafe for drinking.
“Students of the village have to cross the damaged road to reach the schools and colleges putting their lives at risk on the accident prone road damaged by the gypsum mining,” Khaliq said.
During rains, the residents suffer further as the eroded soil comes down into the village and water is logged in the village by blocking channels.
The polluted water, residents said, have caused several diseases.
Children studying in primary school at Gujjar Pati flanking the mining mill suffer loud sounds of heavy vehicles carrying gypsum all day. Other schools in the village suffer the same fate, residents said.
In 2013, residents said, the High Court had stayed mining on the hill, but in 2018, they said, the contractor approached the local court in Uri and started the work again. They blamed the authorities for putting the lives at stake for “political privileges”.
They said that they have approached the authorities several times to get the mining stopped.
Tehsildar Boniyar, Mubashir Amin Khan told Kashmir Reader said that they have approached the higher authorities regarding the issue, who he said, have formed a district level committee to sort out the matter “under certain guidelines”.
“The instructions are yet to come from the district level committee, we will do what needs to be done to benefit public,” Khan said. “I cannot comment on the lower court decisions for letting the mining to resume, and we are bound to follow the instruction of district level.”
Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Nasir Ahmad Naqash declined to comment on the issue.
“I cannot say anything right now on this issue, I am busy,” Naqash, when contacted, said.