Amid election fever, crusher operators go into overdriveAt a time when the district has been completely gripped by the election fever, crusher entrepreneurs are taking undue advantage of the situation, illegally extracting materials from river beds on a massive scale.
At a time when the district has been completely gripped by the election fever, crusher entrepreneurs are taking undue advantage of the situation, illegally extracting materials from river beds on a massive scale.
More than 50 excavators are being used for illegal mining of river materials in Indrawati and Sunkoshi rivers. The local authority and the security agencies are unaware of the mining as they are focused on the May 14 elections. Locals said that the over digging of the river has created 20-metre deep caves on either side of the river beds, putting the nearby settlements at risk with the monsoon round the bed. “There has been a severe exploitation of rivers,” said Dil Kumar Majhi, a local residing near Indrawati River. “The illegal exploitation of the river materials has elevated risk of soil erosion and floods in the surrounding areas.”
Locals said that illegal exploitation has increased as the crusher operators themselves are contesting for key posts in the local elections. Keshav Raj Giri, proprietor of Sindhu Stone and Constructions, has filed his candidacy from the Nepali Congress for the mayor of Sanga Chowkgadi Muncipilaty in Chautara.
Kiran Thapamagar, the proprietor of Jalpadevi Crusher Industry, is vying for ward chairman from Suryabinayak Municipality 8, in Bhaktapur. He is representing the CPN-UML. Roshan Raj Giri, proprietor of Bachalla Devi Crusher, has filed his candidacy as independent candidate for deputy mayor in Sanga Chowkgadi Municipality. Contractors Phadindra Dahal, representing Rastriya Prajatantra Party, and Devendra Ghorasaini from CPN (Maoist Centre) have filed their candidacies as a mayor and ward chairman respectively in Melamchi municipality.
The crusher industries have accumulated huge quantities of water materials like sand and gravels. “As the government does not permit extraction of river materials for three months during monsoon, entrepreneurs have been rushing to extract materials haphazardly,” said the locals. The most affected areas are Sukute, Sathimure, Chaire and Simle in Sunkoshi River. “The local administration is unable to stop the illegal mining as they are operated by people with strong political connections. The administration has no option but to keep mum despite such illegal activities flourishing,” an official at the Forest Office in Sukute lamented. There are 18 crusher industries operating in the district—. most of them concentrated on Indrawati.
A police official, who did not wish to be named, said that illegal mining is conducted in an organised manner. “We don’t receive clear orders from the district to control such activities.”