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Illegal mining goes on unabated in Neugal riverbed

The state government had recently imposed a complete ban on mining in the Neugal riverbed and other tributaries of the Beas. However, the large-scale illegal mining and quarrying is going on unchecked in the region. It is not only creating environmental imbalances but also causing a huge loss to the exchequer every year. The local administration is helpless to initiate any action against defaulters who enjoy "political shelter".

It is on record that illegal and unscientific mining in the Kangra valley has resulted in a large-scale deforestation, landslides and flash floods. The situation is alarming as over 20,000 hectares of land has been seriously affected by mining, quarrying and other activities in the region, resulting in drastic reshaping of landscape.

Illegal mining has posed a serious threat to the existence of dozens of irrigation and drinking water supply schemes which get water from the small rivers of the region. The existence of Kirpal Chand Khual Charnamati and Lower Baijnath Kuhals, feeding 50 panchayats of Palampur, Bhawarna and Baijnath blocks, is in danger because of continuous mining in the catchments of Neugal and Binwa rivers.

Despite extensive losses to the drinking water supply schemes, the Mining Department has failed to check the menace.

The issue relating to illegal mining in the Kangra valley was already under consideration before the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

A senior official of the IPH Department said if no timely action was taken, a number of drinking water supply schemes would go dry in the next three years.

The Tribune (09-10-2013)