Even after the imposition of three-month blanket ban on transportation of sand and gravel to neighbouring states by the ruling Congress government, illegal mining operations and mines around Solan are turning to be gold mines for the mining mafia.
Thanks to officials of various departments, including police and forest, for allegedly turning a blind eye towards illegal mines in the region. Though the Solan sub-divisional magistrate after the receipt of public complaints had recently initiated action against two persons for running illegal mines in Basal and Kainthri area near Barog, the failure of mining department officials in keeping a strict vigil on the mining mafia has left many questions unanswered.
Both the mines were being run by the mafia for the past several years and selling the sand to builders and other consumers, thereby causing heavy financial losses to the state exchequer.
The fresh case of carrying out of illegal mining operations by an industrialist in Lavighat area on the Solan-Subathu road, besides bringing the role of the mining department under scanner has further exposed the government's claim to ensure proper implementation of mining laws across the state.
Illegal mining operations in Jaunaji, Sultanpur, Shilly, Salogra and adjoining areas further proved the growing influence of the mafia in the region.
A visit to Lavighat revealed that carrying out of illegal mining operations by an industrialist on over four bighas, besides destroying public path has further led to heavy soil erosion in the area. During illegal mining operations, a large number of green trees either have been axed or died a natural death owing to mining operations.
Sources in the industry department revealed that the industrialist had purchased four bighas at Lavigaht to set up an electronics industry under Section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act a couple of years ago. Later, the industrialist constructed a building and set up some machines inside the building.
Surprisingly, after some time, the entrepreneur in question started carrying out illegal mining operations on the land by setting up a mini-crushing unit that had resulted into complete destruction of the village's century-old path and plundering of green trees.
Sources revealed that following strong resistance from locals, the deputy commissioner had asked the Solan tehsildar to submit a detailed report, following which tehsildar Kavita Thakur had submitted a report, in which the charges of illegal mining operations were substantiated on May 2.
“The villagers are repeatedly raising the issue of illegal mining by industrialists before the officials concerned, but till date except false assurances no action has been initiated to conserve the ecology of the area,” said member of the Dangri panchayat Suresh Kashyap.
Echoing similar views, villagers Durga Dutt, Vikram, Manish, Shailnder and others said illegal mining operations were being carried out by entrepreneurs for the past several years, but the mining department had turned its back over the serious law violations.
Every day, the industrialist sells a large number of sand trucks unlawfully in the village.
They said illegal mining had badly damaged the public paths leading to Lavighat, Bajrol, Rudhroh, Pasaan and Bhand forests. The buried trunks of pine trees on the site were enough to prove that the officials concerned never visited the site and took action against the violators, they added.
District mining officer Sarit Chadar said the department had not granted any licence to run the mine at the village, adding that if someone was digging the hillock to extract sand, it was completely illegal.