As if their use as dumping sites was not posing enough challenges for the protection of the Valley rivers, unabated sand mining, officially banned since 1996, seems to be auguring a serious environmental hazard. Unsupervised sand-quarrying at Manohara river, and Bagmati and Bungamati rivers to a lesser extent, is fast eating up water tables in the surrounding areas. Say environmentalists, if the current practice continues, Manohara could soon run bone dry. Resultantly, this will weaken the bridges over the river and skew ecological balance of the area.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Range, which has been assigned the task of controlling sand-quarrying from the rivers, and the locals residing by the much-exploited Manohara, are quick to point an accusing finger at each other: The police hint at the complicity of the locals with “sand-smugglers”. The locals are equally quick to turn the tables on the police, accusing the former of sharing in the bounty with the smugglers. But the Metropolitan Police complain of shortage of vehicles and personnel to conduct patrols. That many are involved in this business, where the contractors make up to Rs 20,000 and the sand carriers upwards of Rs 500 a day, is not surprising. However, it is incredible that the Bhaktapur DAO, which claims to keep a close eye on Manohara has “not caught anybody in the act” while the illegal trade is taking place in broad daylight at places like Imadol. Instead of working together to protect their locality, government officials and the locals seem rather happy to heap the blame on each other.