Taking undue advantage of the ongoing unrest in the valley, some vested interested people are nowadays busy with extraction of soil from Karewas in Budgam district.
Reports said that JCBs and bulldozers are being used by some vested interested people along with some land mafia to excavate soil in several areas of Budgam. This process according to locals had stopped a few months back after the intervention of Budgam police, but after the present unrest the illegal work has again started.
As the illegal soil excavation continues to destroy Karewas of Budgam, the authorities especially the district administration is not able to initiate a crackdown against this organized mafia who are now operating from several areas of Budgam like Dardpora, Razwen and other areas.
Pertinently Karewas in Budgam district which are called "Wodder" locally are under threat as the soil excavation is not at all coming to halt from last 15 years. An estimated 20 to 30 % of the Karewas in Budgam and Chadoora tehsils alone have been raised to ground after continuous plunder by several construction companies, land mafias and real estate companies. Huge JCBs and other heavy duty earth excavators are being used to excavate the soil which has turned these beautiful hills into valleys of death and destruction.
Sources say that soil excavation work on Budgam Karewas began around 1998 after the work on Qazigund-Baramulla rail project was taken up. Hundreds of trucks, tippers were pressed into work by various construction firms who undertook various works for Railways which was executed by IRCON a mega construction firm that was allotted the Railway contract.
According to locals there was a beautiful hillock on the outskirts of village Khanda in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam. The same was razed to ground by the construction companies after continuous excavation work.
The Budgam Karewas are famous for almond orchards and the saffron cultivation which was earlier the main source of income in several villages like Kaisermulla, Sarai Khampora, Kuzweira, Kultreh and a number of other villages. Due to soil excavation the almond and saffron cultivation has decreased a lot in dozens of villages.
As per section 133-A of J&K Land Revenue Act, excavation of soil is banned for personal gains, but this process is on unabated in several areas of Budgam district. Sources say that land mafia use the Karewa soil for filling water bodies which are further developed into residential colonies.
"At a time when people of Kashmir valley are facing lots of hardships due to killings, curfews, etc, there are some vested interested people who try to make money by taking undue advantage of this crisis. Such people are the real enemies of people and should be severely punished. I appeal district administration Budgam and local residents to identify these people so that they are taken to task," said Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, a social activist from Budgam district.