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Illegal Riverbed Mining on RanbiAra in South Kashmir Goes on Unchecked

The riverbed mining on Rambi Aara (Nallah) a tributary of the River Jhelum flowing through two south Kashmir districts Shopian and Pulwama is going on regularly. According to the locals, although all the entry and exit points leading to this stream were closed by the local administration a few years ago, however one entry point at Lassipora village continues to remain open, providing a safe passage to the sand mafia.

Due to the intensive extraction of sand and stones, the local agricultural land is rapidly sliding and flora and fauna continue to be damaged.

The mafia is using heavy machinery to extract sand regularly. The local activists have been informing authorities about this issue, however, nothing changed and no action was taken

Rambi Aara stream irrigates thousands of hectares of agricultural land. The Unsustainable, unscientific excavation of riverbed minerals has been having a significant impact on the river eco-system. Despite a ban by J&K High Court (HC), sand and bajri excavation from many Nallahs flowing through south Kashmir is going unabated. Locals blame authorities of nexus with local mining mafia. In Ranbi Ara Nallah one can see dozens of earthmoving machines on the riverbed and the authorities are looking the other way. When we reached out to, Majid Aziz, district officer, geology, and mining department Shopian, he maintained that his department with the help of local police has filed five FIR’s against the culprits and the support of locals is much needed to nab this mafia.

Pertinently, in the month of June, many non-local companies bagged a majority of the contracts for the extraction of minerals from the water bodies of Kashmir, this move by the government is being criticized by many political and civil society groups of Kashmir.

According to reports, all the 10 blocks in Srinagar were allotted to non-local companies and contractors. This is for the first time that non-local companies have been given contracts in Kashmir, after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status. Although in April 2019 the Pulwama administration put a blanket ban on the extraction of minerals from rivers, Nallahs, and streams. The excavation of soil from Karewas was also banned, however, the order was hardly implemented on the ground. According to the local people mining at this pace, has damaged local roads, due to the regular movement of heavy machines, and at many places, the agricultural land has slid, increasing chances of flooding in the future.

About the author

Sajad Rasool

Editor - Kashmir Unheard

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