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: Exploitation of rivers for gravel and sand continues unabated in Rautahat as the fiscal year-end approaches.
Authorities concerned are turning a blind eye as contractors extract sand and pebbles by flouting criteria. Locals of Bagmati, Lal Bakaiya, Chandi, and Dhansaar river basins have criticized the failure of the concerned government to control exploitation of natural resources.
Contractors are using earthmovers in Bagmati River near localities like Paurai, Mangalpur, Kataharghat and Dharampur, among others. The situation in Lal Bakaiya and Chandi rivers is no different.
“Unregulated extraction has exposed these localities to the risk of floods and inundation as monsoon approaches,” Awadh Kishor Thakur, former chairperson of the then Samanpur Village Development Committee, told Republica.
Locals say there has been a surge in exploitation of natural resources due to indifference of authorities like District Coordination Committee (DCC) and District Administration Office (DAO).
Chandrapur Municipality had invited bids for extraction of gravel and sand from Bagmati and Paurai region from interested parties for the current fiscal year earlier in January last year. Contractor Sahadev Khadka from Chandrapur-4 had bagged the tender for Rs 12.1 million.
Similarly, Brindaban Municipality has given awarded contract for extraction in Ramauli area at Rs 16.5 million, while Gadhimai Municipality has awarded three contracts worth Rs 19.6 million for extraction of gravel and sand.
Naresh Thakur, a local, alleged that the contractors were digging 5-7 meters in river to collect rock and sand, violating the contract sign with the local units.
A monitoring team comprising of Chief District Officer Kiran Thapa, DCC Chairman Ram Ekbal Raya, Division Forest Officer (DFO) Binod Singh, Mayor of Brindaban Municipality Ram Snehi Raya, and Chief of District Police Office DSP Navin Karki, had discovered a huge hole in the southern region of Bagmati River some days ago. Following this, CDO Thapa had ordered the contractor to stop extraction immediately.
CHURE EXPLOITATION ON THE RISE
Chure region has lately seen a surge in extraction for resources in different places. Sometime back, when a mobile health camp was underway in Gaidatar, locals had informed Thapa about the haphazard extraction of Chure.
Following complaints from the locals, CDO Thapa had ordered the forest office and security agencies to look into the issue immediately.
Security personnel have impounded over 200 tractor-loads of smuggled gravels and sand over the past six months. “Over-exploitation can affect natural flow of rivers, endangering human settlements,” DFO Binod Singh said. “We are trying our best to control the situation.”