RAUTAHAT, April 15: When he was a kid, Krishna Timilsina, a local of Gaitadar village of Rautahat, never saw excavators carrying river mines. But he grew to see dozens of crusher plants around the riverbeds operating regularly. In the last few years, laborers carrying sand and stones from the rivers of the Tarai belt has become a casual practice. “They take away the aggregates non stop. It seems the rivers will be empty one day,” he said.
Just recently, the authorities impounded an excavator. A district level team deployed for Chure monitoring booked the excavator operator near Gaitadar area. According to Rautahat CDO Kiran Thapa, due action will be taken against anyone who tampers with Chure.
Locals however are not impressed. They allege that sporadic action taken by the authorities is not going to help.
“Just by arresting one or two operators of such crusher plants is not going to make any difference. If the government really wants to save Chure, there should be monitoring round the clock,” Timilsina said.
It is not hard to see excavators busy digging riverbanks for aggregates at Allajor, Dhiyal, Dangduge, Hele, and Bholantar, among many other places of the village. “The recent action taken by the authorities was not without pressure. When the locals noticed excavators without number plates operating, they complained. After many days, they came here to monitor things, but that's for namesake,” Timilsina stated.
Around Gadhimai area, a number of crusher plants are seen at Sanampur, Tokar, Baluwamadanpur, Laxmipur, and Bishrampur. They collect aggregates mainly from the Bagmati river.
“The locals have raised concerns over the issue several times. We even met the authorities concerned over the matter, but they are not serious,” said Timilsina.
Meanwhile, CDO Thapa stated that he would probe the matter. “We will probe the matter. But sometimes problems occur also due to the lack of clarity on the part of the authorities over local resources,” he said, indicating the confusions over the ownership of local resources post federalism. After the restructuring of the country, tussle over rights and responsibility over local resources have resulted in even court cases in several areas.
As per provision, Chair of the District Coordination Committee remains the coordinator of local resources monitoring committee. However, the committee is not allowed to prepare environmental reports in absence of representatives from local administration, forest department and land conservation department. According to CDO Thapa, the committee can issue permits to crusher plants only after proper environmental study and no harm is confirmed. “But we have found that they provided permits to several plants without following due procedures. They did not inform the departments concenred on time. We will probe this too,” he said.