Illegal crusher industry operating in Rameshwornath Community Forest in spite of banAll crusher industries across the eight districts of Province 2 have been closed following the death of Dilip Mahato, who had been protesting against illegal mining of riverbed material in Dhanusha.
Residents of Ramnagar Birta in Mahottari met Minister for Internal Affairs and Law in Province 2 Gyanendra Yadav on Monday and demanded the closure of illegal crusher industries that are in operation at the Rameshwornath Community Forest area and its vicinity.
The provincial government had directed all crusher industries across the eight districts of Province 2 to close down following the death of Dilip Mahato, a 24-year-old man of Dhanusha who had been protesting the illegal mining of riverbed materials, on January 9. However, despite the directive, illegal mining is still ongoing in the stealth of the night, say locals.
According to them, more than nine crusher industries in Ramnagar Birta of Bhangaha Municipality Ward No. 4 operate at night.
The community forest falls under the President Chure-Tarai Madhesh Conservation and Development Project. Santosh Mahato, a local, said the locals have submitted a memorandum to the minister stating that the crushers have devastated the forestland and fertile farmlands nearby.
“They dig sandpits about 30 feet deep and they carry out the excavation at night,” said Mahato.
Birendra Mahato, chairman of the Rameshwornath Community Forest, said his office has been facing several death threats for trying to stop illegal excavation.
“Despite the death threats, we have come to the ministry demanding the closure of illegal crusher industries in the Rameshwornath Community Forest area.”
Minister Yadav said that the locals have directed the Chief District Officer of Mahottari to monitor the district’s illegal crusher industries.
“The excavation of riverbed materials has been prohibited in the province,” said Yadav, adding that his ministry has asked crusher industry operators to submit their documents for inquiry. According to him, the internal investigation of crushers is underway.
Likewise, haphazard excavation of riverbed materials is still ongoing on the banks of Ratu river despite a ban imposed by the District Monitoring Committee in Dhanusha on January 21.
In the eastern part of Ratu in Dhanusha, there are more than 10 crushers within a kilometre of the bank area. “Monitoring teams from the District Monitoring Committee, District Administration Committee and District Police Office conduct inspections during the day but the crushers start their operation at night,” said Hiralal Mahato, a local resident.