Patiala, July 29, 2023: Rampant illegal sand mining around towns and villages near the Ghaggar river over the past two decades has posed a serious threat to the existence of several villages in the area.
Residents blame illegal mining for the breaches in embankments of the Ghaggar every monsoon, causing losses to poor villagers. “Even during the present floods, the first breach occurred in our villages and despite the Irrigation Department claiming to have spent crores in tackling the river’s fury, the illegal mining has resulted in loose soil around the river,” a resident of Kaami village said.
As illegal mining creates craters in the fields, the gushing Ghaggar water erodes the foundation of the bridges, allowing frequent breaches. Rampant mining in the past many years, irrespective of political affiliations, has resulted in breaches in the Ghaggar in the areas of Ghanaur, Sanaur, Shutrana and Samana.
A team fro” The Tribune visited a number of areas in Ghanaur, Sanaur and Samana, and observed that land around the Ghaggar had been dug deep with the soil cover missing and fields still filled with water.
Villagers from Sanaur claim that any complaint to the authorities leads to “intimidation and harassment”. “They (henchmen of politicians) dig about 15-20 feet around the Ghaggar even if they have been given permission for only 10 feet, or even carry out activities without any permission,” a villager alleged.
“If you think mining has stopped, you are mistaken. It is a never-ending process and only the political boss changes after every election. Loaded trucks leaving Ghaggar banks are still a normal sight,” a villager said.
Former General Manager-cum-District Mining Officer, Patiala, Tehal Singh said, “The politicians are hand in glove with the local police and officials of the Irrigation Department continue to excavate sand, leading to weak river banks that result in flooding.”
Cabinet Minister for Rehabilitation and Disaster Management Bram Shanker Jimpa said: “I will speak to the minister concerned to check illegal mining along Ghaggar villages and initiate strict action against officials favouring the mafia.” “Our government will not tolerate illegal mining, leading to frequent floods. The guilty will be booked,” he warned.