Shopian: Days after authorities issued the rate list of minerals, load carriers continue to charge double the rates from people in Shopian.
On August 6, Deputy Commissioner Shopian issued for public notice a rate list of minerals. An official from the district geology and mining department said that a meeting was held and a task force constituted to make sure that the government issued rates are observed. He said that the rates of minerals were issued excluding transportation charges.
Haris Shah, a local from Trenz village, told Kashmir Reader that a trolley which contains 45 feet of gravel is being sold at Rs 1,500 in the village, though the rivulet is hardly a kilometre from the village.
“According to the government issued rate list, a trolley of gravel should cost Rs 400, excluding transportation charges,” he said, adding that if the transportation charges are included, a trolley with 45 feet gravel should cost Rs 700, and not Rs 1,500.
Locals said that at places which are farther from the rivulet, the trolley load is being sold at Rs 2,000. “Like at Nala Bajri, tractor and tipper drivers are charging us more than double the rates for boulders, soil and sand,” said Adil Hussain Lone, a resident of the area.
Villagers through which the excavated material is transported told Kashmir Reader that when the miners are stopped by officials, they take advantage of darkness and work during the night. This disturbs the sleep of people because of the noise created by tractors and bulldozers.
Minerals from the Rambiara rivulet and other streams in Shopian are being transported to hundreds of villages in the region for years. Heavy environmental destruction has been caused to the river beds where meters-deep trenches have been dug, illegally, under the nose of officials.
When contacted, district geology and mining officer Majid Aziz Bhat said that whatever is being excavated or sold to the people is being done illegally. “We haven’t issued environmental clearance to any contractor or local person, even to those who have won the right to excavate through auctions,” he said.
“We are conducting raids in this regard to stop illegal mining and also the sale of minerals at exorbitant rates,” he said.
Bhat added that the department has seized machines and lodged FIRs in this regard and the deputy commissioner’s assigned task force will look into people’s problems as well.