Residents take over extraction of materials from Biring and Tangting riversThe locals have been collecting riverbed materials from the respective lands that they claim to be theirs.
Arjundhara Municipality has repeatedly issued tender notices to extract riverbed materials from the Biring and Tangting rivers, but the local unit hasn’t reached a consensus with any contractor yet. This has worried municipality officials, given the prospect of high revenue that the contract would generate.
Despite this, the extraction of river materials in the local unit has continued unabated. Every day, dozens of trucks and tippers have been transporting river materials out of the rivers.
The river was closed from Asadh to Bhadra end. The extraction started after the month of Asoj.
Pankaj Bhurtel, chief administration officer at the municipality, told the Post that the municipality office had issued the contract notice thrice, but nobody has applied yet. The contract’s amount has been set at Rs41.89 million.
However, according to municipality officials, the locals have granted the contract of the river by themselves, claiming that the river flows from private lands. The locals have been collecting riverbed materials from the respective lands that they claim to be theirs.
Municipality officials claimed the locals have been selling the riverbed materials worth millions in hundreds of tractors daily.
“The locals have been keeping the contract from getting any response,” Mayor Hari Kumar Rana said. “They seem to be engaging in selling river materials to outsiders.”
Indra Siwakoti, a local, said that one of the rivers, Tangting, has been flowing over about 60 bighas of land that belongs to a nearby settlement.
“The river changed its course in 2035BS and is currently flowing over private land,” Siwakoti said. “The land used to produce a good amount of crops.”
Siwakoti complained that the municipality hasn’t done anything to keep the river from invading their lands, and refuted the municipality’s claim that the locals are selling riverbed materials.
“We have only dug the channels to clear the excess sand that has accumulated on our lands,” he said.
But another local said that the villagers have been selling river materials at Rs600 for a tipper full.
“The materials have been sold in the mediation of JCB (excavator) operators,” the local, who asked not to be named, said. “While the locals have been selling the materials at a low price, the entrepreneurs sell it at over three-fold the cost price.”
Mayor Rana said that the municipality would move to punish the locals after obtaining sufficient proof on their ‘illegal activity’.
The locals had obstructed the excavation project granted by the municipality last year as well. This had soured the relationship between the municipality and the contractors, who said that they couldn’t extract river materials worth their money because of the obstruction by the locals. Last year, the municipality had granted a joint contract at Rs25million for both rivers.