UNABATED MINING IN STREAMS | Threat to trout, flood risk increases

As per the guidelines to ensure the conservation of the environment, only permanent dry patches can be leased out for mining.
UNABATED MINING IN STREAMS | Threat to trout, flood risk increases
Earlier, the streams were entirely being looked after by the Department of Fisheries but now the Department of Geology and Mining had been entrusted with the job. [Image for representational purpose only]Wikimedia Commons/ CSIRO

Kulgam: The unabated mining in the streams of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district is posing a threat to trout fish and increasing the risk of floods.

As per the guidelines to ensure the conservation of the environment, only permanent dry patches can be leased out for mining.

However, the extraction is being carried deep inside the waters of Vaishaw, Sandra, and other streams using heavy machinery.

“The haphazard extraction from the streams can affect the breeding capability of the trout fish,” Assistant Director Fisheries Kulgam, Muhammad SiddiqueChoh told Greater Kashmir.

He said that the department had already taken up the issue with the Deputy Commissioner for exonerating several places on the Vaihaw stream for e-tendering.

Siddique said these include the trout-rich spots from Brazloo to Chamgund bridge where more than 400 families are dependent on fishing for their livelihood.

“The NOCs provided for extraction have to be conditional and be allowed on permanent dry patches, not in the mainstream,” he said.

Earlier, the streams were entirely being looked after by the Department of Fisheries but now the Department of Geology and Mining had been entrusted with the job.

The Department of Fisheries now only has to protect the ‘designated trout zones’.

An official said that of all the districts, the maximum leases for mining have been allotted in Kulgam.

Locals said that the illegal extraction of boulders and sand goes on at several places.

“The riverbeds of the Vaishaw have been excavated in Ban, Cheddar, Khrewan and other villages and an embankment constructed by Irrigation department is now being used as a road by these tractor and trolley owners to ferry minerals,” said Shabir Ahmad, a local.

Ahmad said that haphazard extraction had made their villages vulnerable to floods.

“The extractors usually carry work early in the morning or midnight using men and heavy machinery for mining sand and gravel,” he said.

Ahmad said that the concerned department was least bothered about the damage to flora and fauna.

District Mineral Officer, Naseer Ahmad admitted that illegal extraction was taking place at some spots but assured that it would be completely stopped within a few days.

“We were facing certain problems but I have now directed the Enforcement wing to step up vigil on illegal mining during the night,” he said.

He said all the scientific procedures were being undertaken by the lessee for carrying mining at permissible spots.

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