Illegal sand mining rife in Panchthar

Phidim, September 4

Despite the government’s ban, extraction of sand and stones from riverbeds continues unabated in Panchthar. The local contractors have been extracting sand and stones from the Henwa Khola, Tamor River as well as Kabeli River. Hundreds of people are said to be involved in the illegal activity at the Kabeli and Henwa Khola. As many as 150 people can be seen busy extracting the sand and stones from Henwa Khola every day.

Hem Bahadur Limbu, a local, said they had no option but to extract sand and stones from the rivers as it is their sole means of livelihood. “We have been doing this for years,” he added.

Earlier, the local administration as well as the Ministry for Physical Planning and Construction had notified all the District Development Committees across the country to implement the ban. Local Development Officer Tulasi Bahadur Shrestha said the District Development Committee had issued have time and again warned the crusher plants operating in the area to halt the illegal activity.

“But, extraction of sand and stones from riverbeds continues unabated,” he said. Environmentalist Nimesh Koirala said they can not stop the locals from continuing the illegal activity.

The government has formed a district-based monitoring and implementation committee under the coordination of Chief District Officer to monitor such activities. The committee has rights to take action against illegal crusher plant operators. DDC staffers said they had informed about the illegal activity to the committee time and again. “However, the committee has yet to take any action,” they added.