Although a few crusher companies in Nuwakot district have been extracting sand and stones flouting government rules in broad daylight, concerned authorities have been mute spectators to such illegal activities. It is painful even for the passerby to watch excavators belonging to crusher factories dig out tons of sands and stones near Trishuli and Tandi rivers.
Despite the rampant environmental destruction that has been going on for months now, no legal actions have been taken against the offenders.
“There is nothing we can do when VDC officers just stand by and watch them destroy everything. Moreover, the company owners have no fear because they are backed by local mobs,” said a local.
“The government officers are aware that the crusher operators are using heavy machineries to dig below 5 feet but no actions have been taken against them,” he added. As per Early Environmental Test Standards, mining companies are allowed to dig only up to 30 centimeter deep near river beds.
The unruly crusher companies have been identified as Trishuli Aggrogate, Bishal Stone Factory, Aggrogate Private Limited, Shree Aggrogate and Niranjan Stone Factory. A few years ago, excavation contracts of these companies were scrapped by the local authorities for violating government´s set rule on excavation of sand and stones. Only after they agreed to abide by the rules, the companies were given the permit to continue extraction. Now, backed by local mobs, the crusher operators have yet again resorted to illegal activities. “When we try to oppose their activities, they threaten us with taking our lives. The illegal mining is taking place at a massive scale and the government is doing nothing about it,” said another local. Although the mining companies are openly flouting the government set standards, Nuwakot Chief District Officer, Kosh Hari Niraula, expressed ignorance on the matter.
“Any company found involved in such activity will be dealt with sternly. The few companies that I know of have taken the permit and they have abided by the set of standards laid out by the government,” said Niraula. Every year, Nuwakot VDC has been gathering around Rs 20 million of revenue from tons of stones, gravels and sand exported outside the district. “In order to investigate their activity, we tried to get in touch with the company owners but they refused to meet us so far,” said Local Development Officer, Rajendra KC.
As per a new government law, excavation of sands and stones from Chure region should be conducted at least a kilometer far from the area. The excavation site should be at a distance of 500 meters from river beds, highways and bridges, and 100 meters far from high tension lines, a kilometer far from both airport and industrial areas.