The illegal extraction of sand, stone and gravel from rivers in the periphery of bridges and other hydraulic structures in Samba district has been going on unchecked despite a ban. Illegal mining continues in many rivers from near the Basantar, Devak and Balole bridges in violation of norms.
The authorities have banned the extraction of minor minerals like sand, gravel and riverbed material from rivers and nullahs in the periphery of bridges and other hydraulic structures, but illegal extraction of minerals continues unabated near highway and railway bridges in Samba,” said Harbans Singh, a local resident.
The large-scale misuse of tractor-trailers had given rise to illegal mining and quarrying. Though the authorities had restricted the use of tractors for agricultural purposes, a large number of tractors were engaged in illegal mining, quarrying, extraction of sandstone and transportation of quarried material from local streams and rivers to other parts of region, he said.“As per the law in the state, the restriction applied to rivers and local nullahs within a distance of 1 km periphery of railway and highway bridges, but excavation is going on from near the bridge over the Basantar and Devak rivers that falls along the Jammu-Pathankot national highway.
The issue was brought to the notice of the district administration many a time, but no action had been taken till date,” said Jitender Singh, another local resident.Numerous tractors could be seen being used for digging stones and sand daily from the Basantar, Devak and Balole rivers at different points. Neither the Mining Department nor the administration was bothered to the check the illegal mining, which was posing a threat to bridges and hydraulic structures, he said.According to Chief Agriculture Officer, Samba, Kulbhushan Samyal, there were over 990 tractors in Samba district which were registered for agricultural purposes, but the owners of some tractors had indulged in indiscriminate extraction of sand and stone and transportation of quarried material.“We do not have any special powers to keep a check on such violations.
Only the Motor Vehicles Department and the traffic police can restrict the misuse of tractors,” he said.“The administration is in constant touch with the Mining Department as well as the police to stop illegal mining in Samba. We have told the authorities concerned to keep an eye on the mining activities and take legal action against violators as per the law,” said Pawan Sharma, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Samba.