Anantnag: Amid the authorities busy with combating Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, mining mafia is plundering Rambiar Nallah in south Kashmir’s Shopian.
This illegal mining of gravel, boulders and sand is subsequently feeding the construction work, which is also going on in the district despite the lockdown to prevent spread of the novel Coronavirus.
Sources in Shopian district told Kashmir Reader that dozens of tractors, tippers and JCB’s have been employed by these people to plunder Rambiar Nallah at several places including Shirmal, Nazneenpora, Trenz, Turkwangam and other spots.
“They are extracting the gravel, boulders and sand almost round the clock. Some spots where the plunder is being carried out are very near to the mini-secretariat in Shopian,” local sources said, adding that technically, “It’s all being done right under the nose of the district administration,”
Locals fear that apart from harming the ecologically fragile Rambiar Nallah, these people are putting the local population under the immediate threat of COVID-19. The district has already around 30 positive patients of COVID-19 and dozens under observation.
“The movement of these people extracting and then ferrying the gravel and the boulders should be stopped soon or we are doomed. The fact that this malpractice is keeping the construction industry well fed is another grave problem,” said a doctor pleading anonymity from the district.
He said that masons and laborers moving around for work can become silent carriers of the virus.
Recently a man from Rajouri was tested positive for COVID-19 after having worked at different households in Shopian district. The families were immediately quarantined.
Locals demand that the district administration should immediately put a halt to this illegal mining and save not only the Rambiar Nallah but the people of the district as well.
Kashmir Reader tried to talk to the Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Yasin Choudhry, but repeated calls and a text on his cell phone went unanswered.
District Officer for Geology and Mining for Shopian, Suhail Ahmad, maintained that the illegal mining is being carried out only during night hours.
“There is no such thing being done during the day. We have taken measures to stop that. During the night hours, however, we cannot venture out alone. The police do not accompany us given the volatility of the district,” Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.