Cattle grazers or Sand mafia – who is using the ‘ghost’ road over river Yamuna?
Allegations have surfaced that sand mafia could be using the ‘ghost’ road over the Yamuna to ferry the sand that is being mined illegally in the area.
“We have been receiving information about sand mafia operating in this part of the river. This road might have been built by them to transport sand. We apprehend sand mining is going on this island and in the river bed,” alleged Manoj Mishra river activist and convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
When Hindustan Times visited the spot, tyre marks of heavy vehicles were fresh on the banks and on the road. The hostile villagers, however, refused to divulge anything and claimed that vehicles sometimes go to the bank to dump debris.
The allegations of sand mafia constructing a road to illegally mine sand could not be brushed aside, as a similar incident had come to light in the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh barely two years ago.
Hindustan Times had reported in October 2015 when the UP government arrested around 30 labourers who were building a temporary bridge across the river to ferry sand that was being mined illegally in Gautam Budh Nagar district.
By the time the labourers were arrested the road had been partially constructed. Authorities also seized 6,000 sandbags, several concrete pipes and an excavator.
Gautam Budh Nagar authorities had claimed that the mafia had constructed another 300-metre-long bridge near Dadasiya village in Faridabad.
Officials of the Delhi Development Authority, the UP irrigation department, Delhi irrigation department and the National Highways Authority of India were clueless as to who constructed the road and when.
Sand mining is nothing new in the Yamuna. In 2014 the National Green Tribunal had directed the Delhi government to stop illegal sand mining going on in the Yamuna riverbed at Wazirabad and Jagatpur Bund area.
Experts claimed that sand mining could lead to multiple problems, including increase in river gradient, excessive sediment transport, erosion and damage to in-stream habitat, erosion along the banks and change of morphology of the river among others.
“We have already engaged a security agency and they have started patrolling the banks to stop any kind illegal activities. CCTVs would also be installed very soon,” said a senior DDA official.
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