MYAGDI, Dec 30: A crusher plant in northern Myagdi has been involved in illegal mining with support from local politicians. They are illegally extracting stones, sand and other resources from the Mristi River and the surroundings of Annapurna Rural Municipality-4.
The illegal extraction is also supported by the ongoing 42-MW Mristi River Hydropower Project. Locals living inside the Annapurna Conservation Project Area (ACAP) have been protesting against the illegal extraction.
Yet, the mining continues unabated, putting the surrounding areas at a huge risk. The crusher plant has gained permission in the name of Mristi River Hydro and has investment from a few local residents and politicians.
Locals of Narchyang Patar, the place where the rampant extraction is taking place, said the company has been extracting resources on a daily basis and selling it to projects like the Beni-Jomsom road section, concrete bridge project and even to individuals.
“The crusher plant is being run in collusion with some officials from the hydro project. But they do not even have basic infrastructure mandated by the law,” said a local requesting anonymity. “The government should promptly investigate and take appropriate action without delay.”
There is also another illegal crusher plant being run in the name of Mristi River. Although owners and stakeholders of the crusher industry have gained monetary benefits, it has deeply troubled the village and put them at the risk of various natural calamities.
The hydro project extracts raw materials needed for the project construction from its own crusher factory. However, officials from the project have been supporting other crusher plants to extract resources in its name.
“Five tippers transport the extracted materials on a daily basis. There has been excessive and illegal extraction in the name of local development,” said the local. The owner of the crusher is Tej Gurung, who is also the chairman of ACAP Narchayang Management Committee. He has been defending his crusher plant's activities by saying it generates income for the community and helps in local development projects.
The owner of the other crusher plant is Om Bahadur Budhathoki, secretary of the management committee. Gurung and Budhathoki have been extracting huge quantities of local resources with backing from the hydro project officials and ACAP.
Among the stakeholders of the crusher plants are ward member Mekh Bahadur Garbuja of Nepali Congress, and other local politicians including Tama Bahadur Chochongi, Jitendra Chochongi and Bhim Bahaudr Sherpunja.
Due to their strong backing, nobody has been able to do anything. Local representatives, police and stakeholders alike appear helpless. They are keeping mum despite the potential severe consequences from the extraction works. They are also said to be evading taxes.