Pokhara, April 6
Residents of Lamgadi and Gagangauda in Lekhnath Municipality have protested sand mining on the banks of the Seti river citing increased risk to the nearby human settlement.
Recently, Kaski District Development Committee, in line with its decision of January 8, had awarded the Nuwakot-based Pabitra Construction Housing Pvt Ltd the contract to extract sand from Lamgadi’s Satighat on the Seti River bank for Rs 1.2 million.
The locals, however, have aired dissatisfaction with the DDC’s decision to allow sand extraction at the site.
“As we live on the river banks, we are constantly vulnerable to soil erosion during the monsoon season. The ongoing sand mining has added to our woes as the continuation of sand extraction could cause the entire village to cave in,” said 65-year-old Ishwori Prasad Poudel of Lamgadi, also ruing the high-handedness of the hooligans hired by the construction company to intimidate the locals.
“It’s business for them, but it is a matter of life and death for us. I believe it’s only natural for us to protest something that is against our well being. Authorities of the construction company should stop threatening us,” another local argued, adding, “The entire village comprising 400 residents of 140 households of Lamgadi has been protesting the sand mining. Soil erosion during rainy season gives us nightmares every year. If our settlement is eroded due to sand extraction, who will look after our safety?” he asked.
As the mine site can only be reached through the locals’ property, they had set up a blockade on the way.
The construction company, however, managed to remove the blockade on Sunday.
Local Prem Baniya accused the DDC of awarding the contract without conducting the mandatory environment impact assessment. On his part, contractor Yuvaraj Khatiwada denied the locals’ accusation that he had bagged the contract through erroneous means.
“We have fulfilled every process for the extraction of sand. Why can’t we do something for which we have obtained permission from the concerned authorities?” he asked, saying he was ready to face the music if found guilty.
Acting Local Development Officer Narayan Shrestha of Kaski, disavowed anything regarding the matter, saying the contract was awarded by the LDO before him. Planning Officer Kirtanraj Poudel admitted awarding the contract without doing the necessary EIA.
“In fact, we opened the contract for many sites at once and didn’t think of those sites individually.
Regarding the process, all the contracts were awarded in accordance with standard procedures,” he clarified.
A version of this article appears in print on April 07, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.