Contractors and locals clash over excavation dispute in Sardu river
June 10, 2021 11:20 AM NPT
By: Rohit Rai
DHARAN, June 10: A group of people allegedly mobilized by contractors has fatally attacked a group of locals trying to stop rampant excavation in Sardu River of Dharan which falls in Chure area.
A team of youths, including locals, reached Sardu river at around 2:45 PM on Wednesday and stopped the excavation. Later, a group of youths came to the site and attacked the locals. Rajesh Khimdung was seriously injured in the attack by a group of youths mobilized by the contractor while half a dozen others were also injured. Police have arrested seven people, including Khimdung, who went to stop the excavation.
DSP Gyanendra Basnet informed that they were taken under control as a complaint of beating the excavator operators in an anarchic manner was lodged. “It is not right to go to the location in a group while the prohibitory order is still in place. We have received a complaint that excavator operators were beaten. Action will be taken against them as per the existing laws,” DSP Basnet said, "Anyone who goes to the place of work under a legal contract should not be stopped. If they need to be stopped there are bodies concerned to take care of that.”
The team led by Harka Sampang of Dharan had reached Sardu River to stop the excavation. Efforts were being made to stop the excavation in Sardu River for a few days under the leadership of Sampang as the excavation was being conducted indiscriminately and riverine materials were being exported to India. Sampang was not present when the incident took place on Wednesday.
The injured Khimdung said that the attackers came on motorcycles and attacked them in a hooligan manner while he and his team were making excavators and trippers to back off from the excavation site. "Locals are not allowed to pick stones here. But excavation is going on with the help of machines. We asked them to stop it or let locals dig too," he said. “It was when they came and almost killed us.”
The contractor side, however, defended the incident saying that the workers had resisted after the unauthorized persons came and forcibly stopped them and even assaulted the machine operators. "People from nowhere came and asked us to stop the work. We did as they said but they started attacking our workers. We were forced to hit them back,” said Dev Chhetri, an employee of the contractor. “They got injuries while running away after getting into a fight with us.”
This year, Dharan Sub-metropolis has signed contracts for Sardu, Seuti and Sehra rivers of Dharan at a cost of Rs 49.1 million. The rivers have been contracted by Pathibhara Construction Services and Binita Construction. Controversy erupted from the beginning over the contract for the rivers as they are located in the forest and chure areas. Even though the Division Forest Office, Sunsari, stopped the excavation in Seuti, the mayor and deputy mayor of Dharan were accused of favoring the contractor after forcibly carrying out the excavation with the help of three dozen municipal police personnel.
Excavations are being carried out in all the three rivers after the forest office stepped back. The contractor is excavating the riverine materials indiscriminately as there is no monitoring mechanisms in place to check if the standards have been followed.