Illegal mining in the Ravi bed, as a result of which sand and stones are taken away in large quantity, has put the vital Kerrian-Gandyal Bridge in complete danger of sudden collapse. Reportedly mining mafia has come into existence in which people from the State of Punjab are also involved. According to reports trucks and tippers are used to dig sand and stones from the river bed at night only to avoid intervention by authorities. This illegal activity has been going on for a long time and authorities concerned have not taken any note of it nor is there any Government agency alive to the danger which illegal and unlimited mining of sand is posing.
Sand is an important construction material and it is obtained from river bed. But according to rules the digging is retracted to 4 meters only but sand mafia is digging as deep as 40 meters. This poses serious threat to the vital Kerrian-Gandyal Bridge over Ravi because it can collapse once the base is eroded. People of the locality have been protesting against uncontrolled extraction from the river bed and have approached the district authorities with their complaint. The area falls in the jurisdiction of Kathua district and the people have complained to the DC as well. So far no reaction is visible from the Government. Disappointed at the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities, the people of the area took out a demonstration and blocked the National Highway for a while to make their request addressed by the authorities. In normal conditions, the people have had no need of bringing out demonstration and cooling heels at the doorsteps of district authorities to make note of the development. However, district authorities have not made it an administrative issue to deal with the people who are indulging in illegal activity. People’s larger interest is that there is grave danger to the safety and security of the vital bridge. Beleaguered people of the region have given a 72-hour notice to the Government to put a halt to unlimited mining of the river bed failing which they would come out in thousands and block the National Highway till their demands are met and mining of sand is stopped in the bed of Ravi.