Haphazard and illegal extraction of riverbed materials in Gadi stream gain pace during lockdownNone of the concerned stakeholders have taken initiatives to stop the haphazard extraction, say locals.
The haphazard extraction of riverbed materials from the Gadi stream in Parsa has gained traction during the nationwide lockdown period.
Over 1,000 tractors are operating along the riverside, loading sand onto trucks, said Hari Narayan Chaudhary, chairman of Paterwa Sugauli Rural Municipality in Parsa.
“Despite our efforts to control haphazard extraction of riverbed materials, contractor companies are working in collusion with provincial assembly members to illegally extract river materials,” Chaudhary said.
Legal extraction of riverbed materials from Gadi stream was put on hold when the nationwide lockdown came into effect on March 24. But on May 31, extraction works on the stream resumed after the District Coordination Committee in Parsa allowed the tender holder to extract riverbed materials.
According to Chaudhary, extraction works resumed, as there was pressure from all quarters to expedite development works in the last few months of the running fiscal year.
The excavation of riverbed materials is prohibited to parties other than the company with a tender to extract such materials. On December 5, 2019, NK International Chitwan was awarded the contract to extract 31,175 cubic metres of riverbed materials from the stream. But on Monday, the rural municipal office banned the company from extracting riverbed materials citing haphazard extraction.
“According to the IEE report, the stream area can be dug only up to 1 metre in depth but deep pits can be seen in the stream’s banks now; some are up to 3 metres deep,” said Shiva Kumar Chapagain, a local teacher in Paterwa Sugauli.
On June 5, an inspection committee of Paterwa Sugauli Rural Municipality found two excavators, owned by assembly members of Province 2, digging riverbed materials from the stream’s banks.
“The two excavators belonged to Singhasan Kalawar and Manjur Alam, assembly members of Province 2. We have prohibited the use of their excavators, as they were extracting sand illegally,” chairman Chaudhary said.
Locals say Kalawar and Alam were contractors of construction projects before being elected as provincial assembly members.
“But now, they are taking contracts in the name of their family members,” Sugauli said. Alam, however, denied the allegations, saying he had provided his excavator on rent.
Although the Post tried to contact representatives of NK International Chitwan, the company awarded to extract riverbed materials from the stream, they were not available for comments. The contractor sent his people to settle down the issue after reporters reached the excavation site.
Meanwhile, Nek Mohammad Ansari, chief at the District Coordination Committee, said the meeting of the District Coordination and Inspection Committee on May 31 had allowed the company to use machines while extracting riverbed materials.
“The committee only allowed the use of machines in the stream on the basis of the IEE report. We do not interfere with the tender process. The rural municipal office should monitor ongoing extraction works within the standard of the IEE report,” Ansari said.
According to the IEE report, extraction works should be carried out in the stream by maintaining the uniformity of the streambed without digging pits. It has also clearly stated that 25 metres of space should be left untouched on both sides of the stream and excavation should not be done below the water level. But this standard has not been followed.
Locals complained that none of the concerned stakeholders have taken initiatives to stop the haphazard extraction in Gadi stream.
“We have been protesting against the extraction of sand, pebbles and stones in the stream for a long time. But the local unit and the local authorities are not making much effort to stop the illegal extraction of riverbed materials,” said Chapagain.