Himachal Police renew strategy to clamp down on illegal mining
With illegal mining in the riverbeds and rivulets of Himachal Pradesh continuing unabated, the Himachal Pradesh Police have reworked their strategy to curb the malpractice.
The problem is grave in border districts of Una, Kangra, Chamba, Sirmaur and Solan. The banks of the Ravi, Beas, Swan, Sutlej and Mand rivers are affected.
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur had recently taken a notice of the issue and ordered stringent action against the people involved in illegal mining.
Himachal Pradesh director general of police Sanjay Kundu, who recently visited the border districts to review the situation, has issued an advisory on illegal mining to range inspector generals and superintendents of police.
“In recent years, the sand mining industry has grown exponentially as a major economic activity due to the spurt in construction and urban expansion. Due to deforestation, incidents of flashfloods have increased,” Kundu said.
A survey found that despite the ban, indiscriminate mechanical mining is going on unabated and the mined material is being smuggled into other states, causing loss to the state exchequer.
“The industry is often patronised by local strongmen who are resourceful, and more often than not, they are also mixed up with the local law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Increased presence, tech in vulnerable areas
So far, the Himachal Pradesh Police have been carrying out legal action under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and Rules, but such action has been insufficient to prevent illegal and indiscriminate mining, particularly that of sand.
“Therefore, it is imperative that we widen the scope of police action to offer a greater deterrent to such illegal mining. The deterrent action has to include both increased presence in the vulnerable areas and more efficient and directed use of technology and criminal prosecution,” he said.
Going after the big fish with robust intelligence
Under the new strategy, the districts will focus on catching the big mining mafia. “These people will work from behind the curtain and can be tied to offences only with methodical investigation. A robust intelligence will be developed for which mobile data of vulnerable areas can be analysed to find out movements during odd hours,” Kundu said.
He stressed on better liaison with neighbouring states so that intelligence is shared in real-time.
CCTVS will be installed at particular locations to study movement of vehicles and if possible, drones will be used.
District police heads have been directed that the team deployed to check mining activities should comprise of personnel of integrity headed by a gazetted officer. “Safety of personnel is of prime importance and therefore they should be well-armed, trained to handle the weapon being carried and wear body armour,” he said.
The DGP said in the past three years and five months up to May 31, 2021, the state police issued 25,437 challans of illegal mining of which 21,597 were impounded and a fine of ₹15.85 crore was realised.
A total of 101 cases were registered of which 94 are pending in court and offenders have been convicted in two cases and five are under investigation.