The Bold Voice of J&K

UNABATED

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The illegal extraction of sand, stone and gravel from rivers in the periphery of bridges and other structures in Jammu District has been going on unchecked despite a ban. The worst affected is the Basantar, Devak and Balole Bridges in Samba District. There is a ban over the extraction of minor minerals like sand, gravel and riverbed material from rivers and Nullahs in the periphery of bridges in the State and even the Supreme Court has also imposed a ban but illegal extraction of minerals continues unabated. 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 are engaged in illegal mining, quarrying, extraction of sandstone and transportation of quarried material from local streams and rivers to other parts of region. As per the law in the State, the restriction has been 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 fall 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. Neither the Mining Department nor the administration bothered to check the illegal business going on. The unchecked activity has taken toll on four bridges including an important bridge across river Devak near Vijaypur on Jammu-Pathankot National Highway. Nearly 500-mt long bridge constructed on river Devak about 50 years ago, suffered extensive damage due to illegal mining (lifting of sand, pebbles) near the bridge as its three central pillars got uprooted and two others in the adjoining, suffered extensive damage. Not only this, the Balol Bridge near Kaluchak, constructed by National Highways Authority of India suffered damage due to heavy floods last year. Unchecked mining activity under the bridge was the only reason for the damage. Its basement had been exposed to flood waters and it started sinking. There was urgent need of implementing the orders of the District Magistrate to check the illegal activity.

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