Residents have expressed concern over illegal mining by builders and contractors in the beds of Beas River and its tributaries lying in the Manali-Bhuntar region, which has damaged the local ecology.
Parts of the river and its tributaries have been turned into deep ravines due to the actions of mining mafia, who extract sand and raw material to make concrete from the river beds, turning the flow and causing soil erosion, they alleged.
Resident Jagat Singh said, "Unscientific illegal mining in the area, which goes unchecked, has eroded soil along river banks, destroying roads and cultivable land. The government should make a policy for conducting mining in a scientific manner, which can reduce the danger of soil erosion."
He alleged that in spite of being granted authority to deal with the situation, bodies like public works department (PWD), irrigation and public health (IPH), forest and police departments, chose to remain mute spectators.
District mining officer Suresh Thakur said shortage of staff sometimes made it difficult to track illegal activities.
"Four posts of mining guard at Anni, Banjar, Nirmand and Kullu are vacant, which makes keeping vigil difficult, but we are making efforts to curb the problem," he claimed.
He added that mining licences were not issued after 2000, when amendments to the Forest Conservation Act declared river beds and certain other areas as third-class forest land.