Illegal boulder extraction goes unabated in Handwara

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, May 26: Illegal extraction of gravel and boulders from Nallah Talre in North Kashmir’s Handwara district has put the agriculture land and houses around it vulnerable to damages.
The extraction of sand and boulders is going on despite a blanket ban on the practice by the Government.
Locals explained that despite a blanket ban on any kind of extraction from streams, scores of laborers supported by local contractors are seen extracting material at various places in the Talre stream from Zachaldra to Handwara and loading the same into tippers and tractors. “We see scores of tippers and tractors extracting the boulders and gravel from the stream”, “Abdul Ahad, a local said, adding that everything is done right under the nose of authorities.
Locals also alleged that there is an unholy nexus between Irrigation and Flood Control Department and local administration.
An official at Irrigation and Flood Control Department said that the violators enjoy political backing. “Whenever we seize their vehicles or machines which they use in extracting boulder they use their political connections and get them released. We are helpless,” he rued.
The locals of the area are seeking an immediate end to the extraction and demanded a flood protection bund in the area. The locals said that the illegal extraction of sand and gravel from the stream has caused extensive damage to the embankments. “The excavators have dug deep into the stream and that has put the embankments vulnerable to collapse,” Rafiq Ahmad, a local said.
The locals said that the villagers have time and again intimated the concerned authorities but they have failed to check the illegal extraction. “We have been demanding stoppage of this illegal act but authorities are unmoved,” a local said.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Handwara, Muzaffar Hussain,  when contacted said they have already written to the concerned department regarding the issue: “The Deputy Commissioner has himself written to the concerned department to put an end to the act. If anyone is found indulging in the act he will be strongly dealt with,” he said.