Attack on policeman puts spotlight on illegal mining in Uttarakhand
The attack on a policeman by the mining mafia in Dehradun district has once again put the spotlight on illegal mining, which continues unabated in Uttarakhanddehradun Updated: Oct 30, 2017 16:53 IST
The attack on a policeman by the mining mafia in Dehradun district has once again put the spotlight on illegal mining, which continues unabated in Uttarakhand.
On Sunday, two men, involved in illegal mining in the Yamuna River in Vikasnagar area, tried to run over a constable who stopped their tractor trolley filled with illegally mined riverbed materials. The two men were later arrested.
Attacks on government agencies including the forest staff (many mining sites fall under forest areas) and police by the mining mafia are not new in Uttarakhand.
In March, a forest beat watcher was killed when he was run over by a tractor by members of the mining mafia. The incident took place on the Kosi river bed near Ramnagar in Nainital district.
In the same month, a forest department team was shot at by illegal miners in Udham Singh Nagar district, though they managed to escape unhurt and later seized three tractors filled with riverbed material that had been mined illegally by them.
In 2015, a trainee Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer was attacked in Ramnagar area of Nainital district when she had gone to raid the illegal mining taking place there.
The state government has undertaken a slew of measures including introduction of e-auctioning for reining in the menace of illegal mining, but there appears to be no end to the menace.
Permits for mining or removal of river bed material (RBM) are issued by the government to miners with certain restrictions to prevent flooding of rivers caused by excessive accumulation of RBM.
Legal mining takes places in Uttarakhand at more than 300 sites, mostly in plain areas falling in Nainital, Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar districts.
Inspector general of police Sanjay Gunjyal, who had led the state illegal mining prevention vigilance unit, said those having permits for legal mining often violated the norms.
“During our vigilance, we concentrated especially on those (miners) bearing valid licenses for mining, storing and stone crushers as they are the ones who mostly exploit their permits to carry out excessive mining beyond the permissible limits,” Gunjyal said.
Mining contributed around ₹335 crore to the state’s exchequer during the last fiscal 2016-17, following which the state government set a revenue target of over ₹550 crore for the current financial year (2017-18).
“However, thanks to illegal mining, they (mafia) make much more profits than the government (makes) through legal mining,” said a retired forest official who was posted in the Kumaon region.
Cabinet minister Madan Kaushik, who is the official spokesperson of the government, said the government was taking “stringent steps” to curb illegal mining in Uttarakhand.
“Departmental officials including the police have been asked to step up vigil on illegal mining operations. Action will be taken if any officials are found lacking on this front,” Kaushik said.
Last month, four policemen had been suspended for being unable to stop illegal quarrying in Dehradun’s Raipur area.