Yamuna riverbed mining: Miners throw rules of sustainable sand mining practices into the river

Even during the lockdown, Dehradun in Uttarakhand witnessed illegal mining activities round the clock. Despite frequent protests by local villagers and farmers there was no change

Bhim Singh Rawat
| Updated: June 29th, 2020

Disturbing images taken on May 27, 2020 display brazen riverbed mining in Yamuna river in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The images related to Vikas Nagar stretch of river show that miners have not only created a temporary bridge across the riverbed to transport mined material but also using heavy machines to dig the riverbed. In the process the river flow has been impounded at the location.

Sources reveal that active river channel is being compromised by in-stream mining operations. It is learnt that the mining is being done hardly 300 meters from Haripur bridge connecting Vikas Nagar to Kalsi.

According to mining rules creation of temporary or permanent structures impeding river flows, natural path are prohibited. So is the use of heavy machines in riverbed and in-stream riverbed mining. Similarly, mining operations are not allowed upto 500 metres of up and downstream of drinking & irrigation projects, bridge or barrage structures on the river.

Mechanized in-stream mining with heavy machines where river water is impounded and flow compromised by making illegal makeshift bridge at Haripur, Vikas Nagar. (May 27, 2020)

Clearly, with the support state government and administration, the miners have ruthlessly thrown every rule of sustainable sand mining practices into the river.

Recently fearing flood fury & land erosion, local people have objected to the illegal mining activities which is ironically being carried out behind the pretext of flood protection work. Even during the lockdown, the area is witnessing illegal mining activities round the clock.

Two Himachal Pradesh forest department guards were recently grievously attacked by miners near Poanta Sahib for objecting to illegal mining in Yamuna river. After the assault, the attackers had escaped to Vikas Nagar area.

The structures of Shakti Canal and Dakpathar barrage have been threatened by the illegal mining operations.  

The situation some 5 km upstream is equally alarming, where a stone crusher unit at Bausan village have been mining riverbed lying between Hathiyari and Katapathar for past two years. Riverbed here has been dotted with mining pits.

Stone crusher at Bausan causing air and noise pollution for long and affecting villagers health and livelihoods adversely. (27 May 2020)

Locals also complain of significant air and noise pollution by the crusher unit affecting their health and livelihoods adversely. They also rue that local media and administration has totally been ignoring their plight despite repeated attempts.

Another stone crusher unit at proposed Lakhwar dam site was last year found doing in-stream deep mining and processing riverbed materials without having permission for full one year. When administration failed to take any action villagers protested against the unit.

Sources also revealed that the one more unit has been added recently and the stone crushers are involved in excess and deep riverbed and in-stream quarrying apart from illegally discharging silt laden waste water in the river. (Image by Author, 20 April 2019)

However given the involvement of an influential politician, they were harassed by the local police. Seeing system apathy; they now feel helplessness and have given up on hopes of legal remedy.

Sadly the large scale mechanised and illegal mining of sand has been going on in river Yamuna all through the upper segment in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh districts. 

Despite frequent protests by local villagers and farmers there has been no change. The brazen and rampant illegal mining incidents in Yamuna evidently hints at indifference of institutional bodies towards the cause of river conservation.

This article has been sourced from SANDRP. You can read the original article here.