Illegal mining has become rampant in Naraha Rural Municipality, Siraha.

Apparently, this activity has been happening in collusion with the local administration and people's representatives. It is reported that gravel is being mined on private as well as unregistered land adjoining the Jowaha forest in Naraha Rural Municipality without official permission.

Locals have accused the local administration, people's representatives, and forest office staff of being hands-in-glove with the river mining mafia.

What is interesting is that the site where the illegal mining is taking place is just a kilometre away from the forest office. Although gravel-laden tippers from the mining site ply the route through the forest every day, the forest office staffers disavow any knowledge of the illegal activity.

On his part, Naraha Rural Municipality Chairperson Ram Saran Yadav said no mining plant had been registered in the rural municipality.

"We haven't given permission to anyone to mine. If anyone is mining, we don't have any knowledge of it," he said.

"Whether the land is private or whatever, no one can do anything against the rule. I too have sometimes heard about some illegal mining there. It's sad to hear that these illegal things are happening," he said, without saying anything about stopping the mining though.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 23, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.