Unabated ‘illegal’ stone quarrying threatens lives in Baramulla

Illegal stone quarrying in full swing in Drangbal area of Baramulla district. —Excelsior/Aabid Nabi
Illegal stone quarrying in full swing in Drangbal area of Baramulla district. —Excelsior/Aabid Nabi

Irfan Tramboo
SRINAGAR, June 29: The illegal stone-quarries functioning in Drangbal area of Baramulla district has posed threat to human lives in the area and has damaged the roads built at the cost of crores of rupees.
Locals of the area alleged that the operations of the stone-quarries were risking their health due to the dust that emanates from such quarries functional in the area.
Apart from affecting their health, the locals said that majority of the stone-quarries are functioning illegally, particularly those in Turrae Nagrath. The unabated stone-quarrying, the locals said is destroying the Hajibal road as well.
Locals said that while many of these stone-quarries are functioning ‘illegally’, they not only threaten the lives of people but have also damaged 14 kilometer long Baghi Islam- Hajibal road which was constructed under Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) scheme at the cost of several crores of rupees.
“The continuous quarrying could result in landslides and shooting stones. More than 12 kilometers of road length has been damaged due to it. The concerned department is silent and nothing is being done,” said the local.
The locals said that the stone-quarries are located at the top of the hill, while as the residents are living at the bottom of it, exposing them to daily risks.
“We are exposed to continuous risks as we live at the bottom of the hill; there are more than 25 such stone-quarries functioning in area, 70 per cent of which are functioning illegally; in total more than 250 trucks carry out stones out of the spot, which is huge,” a local said, adding that not only it is affecting Turrae Nagrath but entire Drangbal.
District Officer Geology and Mining Department Irshad Ahmad told Excelsior that they have given permission to only 4 such stone-quarries to carry out quarrying and that none was running illegally.
“We have given permission to only 4 such stone-quarries, but if some more have come up, I will ensure that they are penalized,” he said, while adding that they have shut those that were functioning illegally.
The District Officer that he will conduct an inspection in a day or two and will assess the ground situation.