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| Last Updated:06/11/2019

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Illegal mining rampant in Palampur

 Despite the fact that there is a complete ban on mining and quarrying in the Neugal river and other tributaries of the Beas, large-scale illegal mining and quarrying is going on unchecked in Palampur. Illegal mining is not only creating environmental imbalances, but also causing huge loss to the state exchequer as the state is losing royalty in crores every year.


Illegal cutting of hills in progress at Palampur
Illegal cutting of hills in progress at Palampur. Photos by writer

Illegal and unscientific mining quarrying in the Kangra valley has resulted in large-scale deforestation, landslides and flash floods. Over 20,000 hectares of land have been seriously affected by mining, quarrying and other activities in this region, resulting in drastic reshaping of landscape.

Illegal mining is also posing a serious threat to existence of dozens of irrigation and drinking water supply schemes, local paths, village roads and cremation grounds. The existence of Kirpal Chand Khual, feeding over 30 panchayats comprising 100 villages of Palampur, Bhawarans and Daroh blocks and Charnamati and Lower Baijnath kuhals feeding 15 panchayats of Baijnath block is in danger because of continuous mining in the catchments of Neugal and Binwa rivers.

The issue relating to illegal mining in the Kangra valley is already under the scanner in the HP High Court. The court has treated a news item that appeared in these columns as a PIL. The Kangra DC and District Mining officer have been asked by the high court to file a status report.

In the past six months, the SDM and the DSP of Palampur, along with officials of the Mining Department, have conducted a number of raids, seized tractor trailers carrying mining material and imposed heavy fines. This has not succeeded in checking the mining mafia's ways. In Bindravan, Bundla, Nain, Kandwari, Baijnath and Mehanja areas, hundreds of tractors can be seen in the rivers every day extracting mining material illegally.

The persons involved in this illegal trade have no legal rights to extract the sand, stone, bajri and other raw material from these khuds and quarries.

However, with the blessings of political leaders, the mining mafia has flourished when it comes to extracting mining material without paying any royalty to the state government, but at the same time, the mafia is regularly charging “illegal cess” from hundreds of tractor trailers and trucks lifting material from these rivers.