An earthmover is seen extracting sand from the Bagmati River in Rautahat district in this recent photo. Photo: Madan Thakur/Republica Files
RAUTAHAT, June 17: With the current fiscal year approaching its end, the local units in Rautahat district have intensified extraction of resources from the rivers in order to spend the development budget. Despite being aware about the rampant extraction of resources from the rivers, the authorities concerned have not taken any stringent action.
Exploitation of the resources began in Bagmati, Lal Bakaiya, Chandi and Dhansar rivers since the second week of June. Locals lament that the contractors have been excavating the river without following the standards set by the government. The Bagmati River is being excavated at Paurai, Mangalpur, Katharghat, Ramauli, Haraiya, Tokar, Samanpur, Baluwa and Madanpur, among other places.
Similarly, dozens of excavators can be seen excavating the Lal Bakaiya River at Dhansar, Junglesahiya and Chandi areas. Due to the carelessness of the contractors, huge bumps and pits have been created in the rivers, resulting in the change of course by the water bodies and also putting several settlements at the risk of inundation.
Awadh Kishor Thakur, former chairperson of the then Samanpur VDC, said that many villages might get washed away if the rampant excavation in the rivers is not controlled on time. The silence maintained by the District Coordination
Committee and the District Administration Office has only encouraged the contractors to continue the rampant excavation.
In December last year, the municipalities in the district had announced tenders for extracting sand, gravel and stones from Bagmati and Paurai rivers for fiscal year 2018/19. Sahadev Khadka, a contractor of Chandrapur-4, was awarded a contract worth Rs 12 million for the purpose.
Likewise, Brindaban Municipality had awarded a contract of Rs 16 million to extract resources from the rivers at Ramauli while Gadhimai Municipality had awarded a similar contract of Rs 19 million. According to local Naresh Thakur, the contractors have dug up to 5 to 7 meters below the river to extract resources which is against the standards set by the government.
Earlier, a team including Chief District Officer (CDO) Kiran Thapa, DCC Chairman Ram Ekbal Ray, Division Forest Officer Binod Singh, Mayor of Brindaban Municipality Ramsnehi Ray and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of the District Police Office, Nabin Karki had reached the Bagmati River for an inspection.
The team had found a huge pit in the river that was caused by rampant illegal excavation.
Expressing his disappointment over the illegal activities in the rivers, CDO Thapa said, "We found the contractors working against the standards. This might invite serious problems in the future. So, we have ordered them to follow the rules and work as per the law."
Furthermore, uncontrolled excavation in the Chure area has badly affected the locals. In the last six months, around 200 tractors used in illegal excavation have been impounded from various parts of Chure. "It has affected the flow of rivers and put hundreds of lives at risk," said Division Forest Officer Binod Singh, adding, "We have done our part to control the excavation but those involved in the inspection blame the ignorance of local units behind the growing excavation."