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No check on sand mafia, illegal mining rampant in Moga dist

Moga, January 29: Indiscriminate mining in violation of the environment laws has increased manifold in the river belt of Sutlej in the district during the past few weeks.

There are nine sites in the district, but mining is going on illegally at many other locations. Three sites on the river belt at Chak Bhora, Chak Singhpura and Chak Tarewala were auctioned by the mining department a few weeks ago.

illegal mining

A stream of trucks overloaded with sand is a common sight on the embankment of the Sutlej. The old kutcha road on the embankment has been damaged due to the movement of trucks and tractor-trailers.

The area near the river presents a picture of frenetic activity with huge excavators, poclain and JCB machines digging sand from the riverbed and putting it in the waiting trucks and tractor-trolleys.

The use of heavy machinery to excavate sand and gravels in the river belt has been banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the state government is not authorised to grant permission for its use. Only manual excavation is permitted as per the mining rules.

The mining operations are carried throughout the day and night even as the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has fixed the time for excavation during summer from 6 am to 7 pm and in winter from 7 am to 5 pm.

According to the rules, the mining contractor must put up a notice board at the pit head of every mine showing contact details of the Deputy Commissioner concerned, mining officer and contractor, but The Tribune did not find any such notice board on the mining sites.
The local residents said hundreds of trucks and tractor-trailers move out from the riverbed every day. All trucks are overloaded with sand, which is a violation of the transportation rules.

The excavation in rivers can be carried out maximum up to 9-ft (3 metres) deep or water table, whichever is less, but, practically sand is excavated beyond this limit of depth almost at all the mining sites. One could see 20 to 30 ft trenches developed on the riverbed due to indiscriminate sand mining.

Moreover, there is no proper facility of clean potable water, sanitation and first-aid medical facilities for the workers employed on the mining sites. No signboards demarcating the permissible area for mining at the mining sites as mandated under the mining policy were seen on the sites.

At some points, the mining mafia has also diverted the river water, which is less during winter, to excavate sand.

District General Manager of the industries-cum-mining department of Moga Gurjant Singh Sidhu said he was recently given the additional charge of Moga district. “I will personally visit the mining sites on the Sutlej river belt next week, verify the violations and take legal action, if any.”

Sourced from tribuneindia.com

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