Amid lockdown, illegal sand and boulder extraction goes unabated in Kulgam

Amid lockdown, illegal sand and boulder extraction goes unabated in Kulgam

Anantnag: As the lockdown to fightCOVID-19 continues, illegal miners in Kulgam are making most of the opportunity and leaving no stone unturned in plundering the eco-fragile Vaishaw Nallah.

Sources in the area told Kashmir Reader that dozens of JCB’s and other heavy machinery have been employed by mining mafia to make the most of the lockdown.

“They are openly and brazenly extracting sand and boulders at several places using JCBs and other machinery and the district administration has been tacitly allowing this to happen,” locals alleged.

They said that the illegal extraction was going on in Asthak, Ashmuji, Larnoo, Khodweni and more than half a dozen other places.

“Such is the lawlessness that at certain places local Auqaf is now levying taxes, and making some quick bucks, on the extraction because the administration is nowhere to be seen,” sources in the district administration said.

These people, the sources said, were extracting boulders and sand from beneath the bridges constricted after the devastating floods of 2014, making not only the bridges weaker but also putting the entire population at risk in case of a flood.

“Most of the devastation caused in September 2014 was due to Vaishaw Nallah and these people are making sure that the Nallah wrecks havoc in case of prolonged rains,” the locals said.

The locals, Kashmir Reader talked to, said that illegal activity is happening round the clock now.

They said that they were unable to understand how these people are allowed to move while even patients are facing problems to reach hospitals these days due to lockdown.

“It is a clear cut case of administration being hand in glove with the mafia. Otherwise how is it possible that they ferry around this material without being stopped by the forces implementing a strict lockdown,” the locals ask.

Kashmir Reader talked to Deputy Commissioner Kulgam, Showkat Ahmad, who said that the extraction was banned and he is making sure no one does it.

“But unfortunately some people take advantage of the situation while we remain busy fighting COVID-19 and enforcing a lockdown,” the DC said.

He added that the administration was carrying out regular drives, levying fines, confiscating vehicles and machinery.

“But what can you do to thieves. Most of this is done during the night,” he said, adding that he will enforce strict measures to curb this menace.

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