The illegal sand extraction from river Jhelum continues unabated in this northern district of Kashmir.
Experts cautioned the illegal practice has the potential to damage river embankments. This can in turn make several low-lying areas including Jahama, Chakla, Ladoora, Sheeri and Delina as well many areas of apple town Sopore vulnerable to floods.
“Every day scores of load carriers transport the sand illegally extracted from the river to the markets. The authorities are not bothered to put an end to this practice which is being carried out in broad daylight,” said Ghulam Hassan, a resident of Drangbal. “This illegal trade has now grown into a mafia.”
The Irrigation and Flood Control division Baramulla had procured two dredgers in 2012 to carry out dredging of the water body downstream to minimize chances of flood in upstream areas.
The department sold the extracted sand for more than Rs 14 crore, an official said.
At the same time, he said, the department has filed more than 40 cases against people involved in illegal sand extraction.
“Nobody knows about the fate of those cases. The action in the cases could have served as deterrent and prevented the illegal practice,” said the official.
He said since August 5 – the day Article 370 of Constitution was abrogated – people involved in the illegal practice have taken advantage of the prevailing situation and were extracting the sand unhindered from the river beds.