Flooding in Phillaur villages: Locals blame Illegal mining; two breaches plugged in
Due to heavy rain and release of water from Bhakra, the Sutlej breached its banks at four places in Phillaur sub-division, submerging crops on 11,000 acres across 31 villages on Monday.
As residents blamed rampant illegal sand mining on banks of the Sutlej for breaches that led to flood-like situation here, the local administration continue to struggle to curb the practice.
Due to heavy rain and release of water from Bhakra, the Sutlej breached its banks at four places in Phillaur sub-division, submerging crops on 11,000 acres across 31 villages on Monday. The residents have blamed the lackadaisical approach of the officials concerned to check the illegal mining behind the breach near Meowal, Mau, Mautipur Khalsa and Bholewal villages here.
This is not the first time that the issue of illegal mining was raised and people have blamed the administration for failing to stop the practice. Earlier, Phillaur residents had blocked highway four months ago over the issue.
“Village panchayats had submitted a memorandum to the Jalandhar deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh four months ago apprising them about the prevalent illegal mining that has been weakening the banks, but to no avail. They had cited that overloaded vehicles with sand have weakened the dhussi bund (temporary embankment). Local police also do not act due to political pressure,” said Jatinder Atwal, Lambardar of Miowal village.
He said mining quarry was approval at Majra village under Ludhiana jurisdiction, around 1.5 kilometres away from Miowal village here, but the sand was being illegally transported from Miowal village too.
Phillaur MLA Baldev Singh Khaira also claimed that the breaches had taken place only at places where mining mafia was active.
As per the Phillaur police, they have seized seven tractor-trolleys carrying illegal sand this year from the Phillaur village alone.
The only government-approved mining quarry at Salkiana was also shut down and its owner booked six months back. Earlier, a case was registered against the contractor of the site and his two workers as mining department detected rampant illegal mining at the site in November last year.
The mining department had also seized three excavators being illegally employed at the Salkiana quarry in May last year but no action was initiated against the contractor. The police had returned seized vehicles a few weeks later.
The chief minister had also spotted ‘illegal mining’ on the banks of Sutlej in Phillaur in March last year.
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Phillaur, Davinder Singh, claimed that vehicles are being seized and surprise raids were also conducted to prevent this practice in the sub-division.
Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, state water resources minister, while reviewing the flood-affected villages here denied claims that illegal mining was a reason behind the disaster and said that his government was taking all actions to prevent illegal mining in the state.
Earlier, senior advisor to CM Lt Gen (retd) TS Shergill during his visit to Phillaur had expressed concern over the mining on the bank of Sutlej and said, “A proper study should be conducted in the illegal mining on the bank of Sutlej. The issue is being raised and it is possible that it can affect flow of water if the practice is not stopped.”
Meanwhile, district administration plugged in 165-feet Mau village breach on Thursday and Miowal village 350-feet breach on Saturday. The work on two breaches is going on and the water level has also decreased in the Phillaur sub-division villages.
Minister said that remaining two breaches would be plugged in two days.