KAILALI, July 14: Illegal extraction of sand and rocks is rampant at Khutiya River in Kailali district. Locals say that several unauthorized groups are involved in mining sand, pebbles and rocks using excavators since the last two weeks.
“Although locals have been protesting against excavation, mafias have continued to extract the resources,” Chakra Bahadur Shrimal, a local at Syaule VDC, said, adding that every day up to six excavators appear at the bank of Khutiya River.
On Tuesday, too, excavators were at work near the river.
"Although the groups flee from the site when they see locals, they again return afterwards,” according to locals.
Locals complained that concerned authorities have been looking the other way despite their repeated pleas to halt such illegal activities.
“We had written to the District Development Committee (DDC), Kailali regading the illegal activities,” Uddab Shrimal, a local, said. “But the authority has not taken any actions so far.”
Heavy extractions have weakened the areas topography, rendering human settlements vulnerable to soil erosion.
“The river's course already seems to be turning toward our settlement,” said Ajay Chaudhary, a Syaule resident.
One of the excavator drivers, who worked for a local construction firm KS Construction, said that they were ordered by their employers to keep stock of sand, pebbles, and stones. “We don't know whether our contractor has the authorization for the excavation.”
Meanwhile, Keshab Prasad Bimali, an official at Kailali Local Development Office, said the office had fined the groups involved in illegal mining. “It is completely illegal to engage in mining near rivers,” Bimali said. “We caught them doing it and fined them and let them go after a warning.”
The excavation at the Khutiya River has put several settlements at Syaule, Sehari, Dhurjana, and Jonapur at risk.