Environmentalists allege illegal mining continuing in Gurugram Aravallis - Hindustan Times

Environmentalists allege illegal mining continuing in Gurugram Aravallis

BySuparna Roy, Gurugram
Apr 01, 2021 11:43 PM IST

A group of environmentalists said they had found evidence of large-scale stone mining in the Aravallis during a ground check near Gurugram

A group of environmentalists said they had found evidence of large-scale stone mining in the Aravallis during a ground check near Gurugram.

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In 2009, the Supreme Court had banned all forms of mining in the sensitive mountain range, considered to be the oldest in the country and a rich quarry for construction stones and sand. This had not stopped miners though with much of the range withering every year.

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On Sunday, Neelam Ahluwalia from the Aravalli Bachao, a citizen’s movement to save the range, visited areas near Pandala and Bhardwaj lake along with eight others.

“We had gone to learn about the Aravallis and were shocked to find that illegal mining was rampant in those areas. We saw a make-shift road cutting through the forests for tractors. We have already lost over 30 hills in Rajasthan due to mining and if it continues like this, then we will lose our Aravallis in Delhi-NCR too,” said Ahluwalia. “If the government’s plea in the Supreme Court to legalise mining in the area for additional revenue is allowed, then what is happening in the night will happen throughout the day, and we will lose our most important water recharge zone, a crucial wildlife habitat, our green cover and shield against desertification.”

The team said they saw around eight to ten illegal mining sites only in the Pandala hills area.

Prabhat Verma, a resident who is a regular visitor to Pandala hills said that mining had intensified over the last six months.

“I have been hiking in the Aravallis since a decade and in the past one year I have visited the Aravallis every week. Even till last year, the hills were right adjacent to the road, but those have disappeared. In its place are lands with loose soil. Under the cover of darkness, tractors carry away boulders and the hills are being razed” said Verma.

He said that sand mining was rampant near Bhardwaj lake.

“Around two weeks ago, I had seen sand being carried out from the lake bed on camel backs,” he said.

Gaurav Sarup, a resident who had visited the area on Sunday said, “After walking around 2 kms into the forest in Pandala hills, vehicle tyre marks leading to a large ditch that did not seem natural. The adjoining hill was cut in half and stones and boulders lying around.”

‘Will check this area too’

But according to Gurugram mining officer Anil Kumar every thing was under control in the city.

“We are not aware of this particular situation (at Pandala hills and Bhardwaj lake), but illegal mining is completely under control in Gurugram with strict vigilance with the help of local police. We inspect sites in the district every week, but we will check this area also,” he said.

Gurugram deputy commissioner Yash Garg also said that the administration will take action after inspecting the area.

According to official figures, the mining department had seized 385 vehicles carrying illegally mined material and recovered 8.32 crore from them in Gurugram and Nuh between April 2020 and March 2021.

The Aravallis are considered to be the lungs of the Delhi-NCR region and also supports a rich biodiversity that includes leopards, sambhar, fox, jackals and palm civets, among others.

The 2009 Supreme Court ruling applied to the Aravalli regions in Faridabad, Gurugram and Mewat. In October last year, the Haryana government appealed to it to allow mining in Gurugram and Faridabad.

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