Clamp down on illegal mining in Aravalli sprouts small diggers
Alwar/Gurugram/Faridabad: The Supreme Court’s crackdown on illegal mining in the Aravalli range has forced illegal miners out of business. However, the illicit practice continues in small pockets in the dead of night, amid lack of surveillance and policing.
As infrastructure and construction projects abound, the hunger for raw materials grows ravenous. It is not uncommon for illegal miners to be accompanied by antisocial elements carrying firearms to ward off other gangs and even cops.
Now, local gangs feed the construction industry in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, which remain the main market for a steady supply of stones and minerals. In Rajasthan, dodgy miners dig for grit stone, which holds high value due to its versatility in the construction industry. The Aravalli range starts from Gujarat and move northwards to Delhi and Uttar Pradesh via Rajasthan. Gifted with a bounty of natural resources, permits have been issued by the four states for legal mining.
“There was a time when the mafia used to operate in the daytime,” says Rajendra Singh, Superintendent of Police, Alwar district in Rajasthan. “Over 90 per cent of illegal mining in the area has stopped, but there have been instances of illegal mining in the dead of night. It is not as organised as it was in the past, but locals dig at an abandoned site or at approved sites. When we get timely information, we act against it.”
Authorities says the operations are a nexus between local goons, villagers, anti-social elements, smalltime politicians and in some instances, even public representatives. In some regions, such as Neem Ka Thana in Rajasthan, locals are rising up against the assault on nature.
“Several of the hills in our area have been wiped out or disfigured by illegal mining,” says retired Army jawan Jairam Singh Tanwar of Dabla village. “Despite the crackdown, locals go to the base of any hill with a tractor and trolley, and start digging. No one can see them at night when they ferry out the stones,” Tanwar adds.