Police seize three excavators from Mahakali River for extracting riverbed materials haphazardlyMunicipal office has banned the use of excavators in extracting sand, pebbles and other construction materials from the river.
The District Police Office in Kanchanpur has seized three excavators for extracting riverbed material haphazardly from the Mahakali river.
On Saturday, police personnel also briefly detained the tipper truck drivers who were operating the excavators at Bhimdatt Municipality Ward No. 13.
Superintendent of Police Dinesh Acharya said that they released the drivers on the condition that they would not repeat the offense, of extracting sand and construction aggregates from the river without following set standards. Acharya said, “The excavators along with their operators will be sent to the District Coordination Committee for further inquiry.”
In Bhimdatt Municipality, there is a ban on the use of excavators in extracting sand, pebbles and other construction materials from the river; however, contractors have been haphazardly extracting riverbed materials despite the ban.
Bhimdatt and Mahakali Municipalities have set standards for the extraction of gravel, pebbles, and sand. As per the standards, contractors have to conduct Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and present its report to the municipality office. Only after presenting a report will mine operators be permitted to work in the riverbeds. The municipality has also directed the miners to employ manual labour instead for the extraction of riverbed materials. But most contractors are found not following the set standards.
Locals are worried that the haphazard extraction of riverbed materials pose a serious threat to their environment, surrounding human settlements and community forests in the district.
Lal Bahadur Shahi, a local of Bhimdatt, said that excavators are also being used near the suspension bridge area, which could prove to be dangerous. “Excavation in the area could prompt the foundation of the bridge to cave in,” said Shahi, adding that haphazard extraction can cause environmental hazards, including floods, landslides, and erosion.
Shiba Singh Bhandari, an official at the District Coordination Committee, said that the municipal office will take action against the guilty. Bhandari said, “We have coordinated with the local units to investigate the incident.”
Contractor Tej Bahadur Chand, of Sidhhanath Udayadev Crusher Udhyog, claimed that the municipality has not informed them about using manual labour to extract riverbed materials. Chand said, “We have not been informed that we are only allowed to use such measures in the agreement letter. The costing of mining will shoot up if we do that.” Himal Chand, ward chairman of Bhimdatt Municipality Ward No. 13, however, says that contractors had been informed about the rule.