Illegal mining goes unabated in Wakura, hundreds kanals of land encroached

Illegal mining menace in Wakura, Ganderbal.
Illegal mining menace in Wakura, Ganderbal.

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, June 30: Despite ban on illegal mining in the J&K UT by the Government, the unabated mining is posing a grave threat to residents with especially in village Raki Raftar Ganwora in Wakura tehsil of Ganderbal district in Central Kashmir where the mafia has encroached hundreds kanals of State and Ahalhanood land for illegal mining with authorities at the helm of affairs maintaining stoic silence over the issue.
According to sources, hundreds kanals of State and Ahalhanood land has been encroached in the area by mining mafia under the very nose of administration and officers of Mining Department who over the years have failed to act against them with the result the people of surrounding areas are facing a grave threat.
Sources said the fertile State as well as Ahalhanood land in the area has been encroached by the mining mafia using JCBs during night hours affecting the flora and fauna and resulting in environmental degradation. The sand excavated from the land is collected by laborers during the day time and is sold on exorbitant rates after the Government enforced the ban on mining in the UT of Jammu since last year. This practice continues with concerned officials not taking any cognizance of the same.
The local residents are worried over the increasing trespassing by mafia in the area, sources said, adding despite taking the issue with concerned authorities as well as the district administration no action has been taken. The mafia has become so emboldened in the area that they even pose threat to the people daring to complaint against them with police or district administration.
Sources said people in the area are totally scared of the mafia groups who use both muscle and money power to silence the voice of public who dare to raise the issue of encroachment of State land for illegal mining. The entire fertile land in this river Sindh Basin has been now converted into big ponds of water with 15 to 20 feet depth which have even became the death trap for the people, sources added.
They said that over two years back a 10 year child died after drowning in a pond of water dug by mafia in the area. Moreover, the people of the area have lost the pastures on which they were feeding their cattle since the encroachment of land. The illegal mining has even posed a grave threat to fertile agriculture land which is also known as the rice bowl of Ganderbal district as some people after being lured with huge money being paid by mining mafia for digging their fields to extract sand and sell the land to them for excavation purposes. But this is posing a grave threat to flora and fauna in the area as well as adds to environmental degradation as ponds of water have spread over huge area of land over the years.
The local Panchayat had taken up the issue with authorities of Geology and Mining Department number of times but to no avail, said a resident of nearby village on the condition of anonymity. He said that earlier the SSP Ganderbal Khalil Poswal had taken strong police action against the mafia but after his transfer no one bothered to look into the issue.
Sources said mafia defaced the land stretching over 200 kanals in the area and a cremation ground comprising 12 kanals of land in village Wakura is no where exiting as the same has been converted into a big pond of water. In case a member of local minority Hindu or Sikh community breaths his last there is no space left for cremating him or her as the entire cremation ground has been encroached by the mafia, sources added.
People of the area have sought immediate intervention of district administration and urged it to take prompt action against the mining mafia by seizing their machinery. They said when the Government has banned the mining in the UT how the mafia in the Wakura area is continuously indulging in illegal mining.
District Development Commissioner, Ganderbal Krittika Jyotsna said that she is not aware of the matter but in case the illegal mining is going on in the area strict action will be taken against the culprits and she will issue directives to the concerned officers to take action in the matter.
However, Director Geology and Mining J&K, O P Bhagat said that punitive action will be taken against the mafia involved in the illegal mining in the area. He said he will investigate the matter threadbare and a team for at and on spot investigation will be sent to the area and no leniency will be shown to those who indulge in illegal mining.
Tehsildar Tulmulla, Farooq Ahmed who is holding additional charge of Wakura tehsil said that he also had received a complaint few days back about illegal mining in the area and he visited the spot and got it stopped. He said earlier the illegal mining had taken place in the area but now it has been stopped. Still he will again visit the spot to verify the facts.
Sources said today a team of police led by Divisional Officer Shadipora, Gulzar Ahmed visited the area and stopped the illegal excavation there. The police team also seized the water pump used for dewatering in the area on spot. The laborers who were engaged in excavation however fled after seeing the police, sources added.