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Illegal mining of sand posing a threat to residents

Special Correspondent

Silchar, Feb 10: People’s complaint against illegal quarrying of sand and soil from the riverbeds of Barak Valley in general is not a new phenomenon. There is no river which is not within the claw of sand and stone mafias, keeping often the forest department of the area in dark. Last Wednesday, hundreds of people of the villages of Batertal, Gangapara and Angarjur under Rongpur GP near this town, some areas falling within the jurisdiction of Silchar Municipal Board, in a written memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar submitted that sand mafias have created a sort of panic by their illegal quarrying from the riverbed.

 According to the complaint, 20 to 25 trucks round the clock are engaged in digging sand and soil. In this illegal activities, the mes of one person identified as Tapan Deb and his two accomplices, Jubali Barbhuiya and Chandmani Laskar, have been mentioned. This kind of rampant and daring quarrying in gross violation of the forest rules and regulations has posed serious threat to the standing embankments along their villages. If this kind of operation by mafias goes on, the 10,000 residents living by the bank of river Barak will be exposed to the scourges of floods. During monsoon when the river gets flooded, the embankment comes as a protection to the villages around.

 This kind of illegal operation in riverbeds is going on in other areas too, the local residents pointed out. The magnitude of the problem can well be gauged from the fact that heaps of sand and soil have been dumped at one place. Not only that, through the embankment, passages have been forcibly created to let trucks go in and out. According to one count, the heaps of sand accumulated have been deposited by around 500 trucks. More heaps are coming up. The areas in question are covered by the dust, besides the residents can hardly sleep at night due to the sounds created by the moving vehicles.

 Students are most inconvenienced as they cannot concentrate on their studies. Even the road constructed under Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yoja has been virtually damaged, standing in the way of the movement of people, mostly the school and college going students. An ailing patient cannot be taken easily to a place of treatment. In reality, people are living in panic. Their daily life has been badly affected. The photograph with this news tells of the serious problem created for the people.

 Quite serious is the fact that round the clock illegal quarrying has caused deep holes in the riverbed which again is threatening more the existing parts of the embankments. There is every reason to believe that there is involvement of the forest department. Otherwise, how can such massive loot of forest wealth go on for the last 4 years? In view of the gravity of the situation and the impending threat to the life and property of the people, it is the crying need for a thorough inquiry into the whole shady operation.

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Ankur Kalita