Illegal extraction of riverbed materials goes unchecked in Narayani riverThe continuous extraction of riverbed materials can cause the river to change its course time and again, stakeholders say.
Illegal extraction of riverbed materials is going unchecked in the Susta area along the Narayani riverbanks in Nawalparasi (West) for the past few months.
Although extraction of riverbed materials is prohibited in Narayani river, people continue to take part in such illegal activities, with the local administration, local unit and the District Inspection Committee turning an blind eye to it.
“Smugglers have been excavating riverbed materials from Narayani river, as the local unit has put a ban on collection of sand, stones and pebbles from local streams. The riverbed materials extracted from Narayani river are being transported to India illegally,” said a resident of Susta, preferring anonymity.
Susta shares an open border with India. According to the Nepal-India agreement, it is illegal to extract riverbed materials from Narayani river. But smugglers have been collecting stones, pebbles and sand worth millions of rupees from the river and transporting the goods to India.
“Illegal extraction of riverbed materials from Narayani has affected the repair works of Gandak dam and spurs,” said Dudhnath Gupta, chairman of Gandak River Control Struggle Committee. “We have informed the concerned authority to control smuggling in the area. But they have not done anything to stop such activities.”
According to Gupta, the continuous extraction of riverbed materials can also cause the river to change its course time and again.
“The rural municipality alone cannot stop the illegal extraction. Local residents, security personnel and other concerned stakeholders should take initiatives to stop such illegal activities,” said Ram Prasad Pandey, chairman of Susta Rural Municipality. “It is impossible to stay on the lookout all the time. But we are going to inspect the area and take action if necessary.”
This year, the rural municipality has not conducted any inspection of the river bank area. According to the local people, smugglers are extracting riverbed materials from various areas along the river bank but the concerned authorities are staying mute.
Under the Gandak agreement with India, an office has been established to coordinate various issues relating to the dam between India and Nepal.
Tara Singh Thapa, an official at the office, said that the rampant extraction of riverbed materials can cause massive floods in the Gandak dam during the monsoon.
“The Gandak dam has become old now. It can collapse anytime in case of flood,” Thapa said.
Meanwhile, Shiva Shankar Raya, chief at the District Coordination Committee in Nawalparasi (West), says that inspection is difficult since smugglers are active mostly during the night.
“The inspection team has found riverbed materials stored in bordering Ramnagar, Beduali, Bahuwar, Basiaya and Bhujahawa, among other areas. The price of riverbed materials is higher in India. That is why smugglers are transporting the extracted materials to India via boats and tractors,” said Raya.