Mining mafia active in Indora region of Kangra district abducted Puran Chand of Mand-Myani, almost beat him to death with sticks and iron rods, and threw him near Nangal Boor bordering Punjab.
Shimla: Though the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur led Bhartiya Janata Party has been harping about the elimination of mining, forest, and drug mafia in Himachal Pradesh, but in speeches and media statements only.
In its media statements, the new government has taken expeditious action and is up in arms against the mafia, just like the previous government.
The mining mafia had only emboldened during the previous Congress-led government, and it continues to grow after the BJP romped into power in assembly elections held in November.
Now, the situation has become such that mafia has begun to abduct and assault villagers, who are daring to protest against the destruction of the rivulet. The police is yet again held back by the patrons of the mafia.
On January 30, the mining mafia active in Indora region of Kangra district abducted Puran Chand of Mand-Myani, almost beat him to death with sticks and iron rods, and threw him near Nangal Boor bordering Punjab.
He was first taken to the Civil Hospital in Pathankot, and then to Tanda Medical College, Kangra, in a critical condition.
After nine days of the attack, the culprits, identified as stone-crusher owners, are at large not because our police is incompetent, rather because our leaders and government have always been ceding the control to the mafia.
The cause of failure of police needs no explanation considering the fact that the police had filed a complaint against eight assaulters named by the victim. The Chief Minister had visited the victim and had assured him justice, which proved to be only a media statement so far.
Enraged over the inaction of the police, the people had gheraoed the police station, Indora on January 31. They demanded booking the culprits for an attempted murder (Section 307 IPC). The district administration failed to pacify the situation and had to face the wrath of people, who shouted anti-police slogans.
Isn’t it strange that despite the establishment of the Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM) office in the region, illegal mining still goes on with no fear of the law?
As per the allegations labelled by villagers, the explanation of this inaction of the district administration and police lies in the fat monetary benefits offered by the stone crushers and miners.
This conflict between the common people and growing influence of the mafia is going on for years, but the situation worsened between 2014 to the current date.
As per the Kisan Sabha Unit of Kangra, Puran was playing a leading role in the protest against the illegal miners since 2014, which is why he was targeted to terrorize locals.
Now, the villagers are opposing the movement of tippers carrying mining material. In return, the stone crushers are also obstructing a small bridge to harass the villagers.
Along with the mafia, the government seems to have lost the fear of law too, because the State High Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in 2017, had made serious observations regarding the illegal mining and had imposed a complete ban on mining in tributaries of the Beas.
Following the orders, the administration and the mining department registered several cases for a while but soon discontinued their surveillance due to reasons unknown.
The transfers of IPS Gaurav Singh from Baddi and Sanjeev Gandhi, former superintendent of police, Una, are sufficient to support the allegation of patronage to mafias by the government.
Gandhi had tightened the noose around the mining mafia by launching a special drive for this purpose. In March 2017, the police had even caught the offenders red-handed in Damtal region of the district and seized JCBs and vehicles found on the spot.
However, the amount of money and politicians or their relatives who are, directly or indirectly, involved in illegal mining, make the government agencies accede to mafia raj.
In 2017, Gandhi was slapped three different transfer orders in just 17 days.
He went after the miners in the district who was supplying the illegally mined material to the neighbouring state of Punjab and registered 27 cases against illegal mining.
However, as a reward, his transfer order was issued in his absence within two days after the stone crusher owners and illegal miners exerted pressure on the BJP government.
Previously, during the Congress government, Gandhi, then posted as SP Kangra, had launched a similar drive against the mining mafia. He had registered 17 FIRs alongwith action against 950 violations in just seven months during his tenure in 2016-2017.
During that period, several machines and vehicles were seized by the authorities, which were later released unlawfully.
The mining mafia in the district heaved a sigh of relief when the administration released impounded vehicles in a gross violation of rules and the NGT in its specific orders had directed the state agencies not to release such vehicles. Sources said with the intervention of senior officers of the state government, these vehicles were released,
said a report published in the English daily.
He had even conducted a survey of stone crusher units set up near the Chakki rivulet, a tributary of Beas that marks the boundary between Himachal and Punjab, in the Nurpur and Indora jurisdiction.
Chakki rivulet in the subdivision bordering Punjab and Himachal Pradesh is a witness to the rampant and illegal mining that is threatening over 10 panchayats. The people in the area are dependent on the Chakki water for irrigation.
Illegal and access mining with heavy machinery is turning the fertile fields into barren land. The mafia has destroyed local paths, water channels, and cremation ground, alleges the villagers.
The rivulet is marked by huge ditches as the mining mafia are not adhering to the rules and regulations for extraction of mining material. The government is bearing the huge loss of revenue as the mafia easily evades royalty and local taxes.
At that time, he was transferred to Una. Within four months, he was again transferred.
In 2016, the state High Court had also taken suo-motu- cognizance of the matter, and the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Sandeep Sharma had questioned the Congress government over regressive actions against honest officials.
Earlier, the Kisan Sabha’s protest had compelled the authorities to visit the mining spots, and they had admitted that illegal mining activity was prevalent in the area. The inspection team had found that the miners had excavated upto a depth of about 40 feet. Despite that, no action was ever taken against the culprits, alleged the Kisan Sabha.
The Sabha has expressed doubts over the intentions of the new government as no action is being taken against the perpetrator. The Sabha has also threatened the government that it will launch a massive protest against it if appropriate action is not taken against the assaulters and other stone crushers and mining mafia active in the region illegally.
As the government, which has failed to keep the mining mafia at the bay, has recently asked Punjab for demarcation of its boundary. The unclear boundary line makes it easier for miners from Punjab to intrude into Himachal.
In a report published in another English daily, the police officials in Kangra had admitted that when they chase mafia, the Punjab police raise the issue of jurisdiction.
A similar attempt was made during 2015 to take up the matter with Pathankot counterparts seeking demarcation of the boundary along the Chakki Khud.
By delaying the right action, the government is not only condoning the offenders, but also ignoring the gravity of the environmental debacle that the excess, unscientific, and illegal mining is causing.
Watch: IIT Mandi Researchers Use ‘Pollutant Diesel Emissions’ For Water Treatment
Mandi- Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Mandi have used the soot emitted by diesel engines to mop up oil and other organic pollutants from water. Their work has been recently published in the journal – Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
Although diesel engines are known to be superior to other internal combustion engines in terms of lower fuel consumption and better energy release efficiencies, they are associated with significant amounts of particulate emissions.
The particulates largely comprise soot, which is formed in the fuel rich regions of the burning diesel jets. Increasing environmental concerns and stringent emission standards require the development of both conventional and unconventional means for reducing soot.
Studies in this area have focused on improving the engine design and incorporating special filters and treatment units at the exhaust end of the vehicle.
Dr. Rahul Vaish, Associate Professor, School of Engineering at IIT Mandi and his research students Vishvendra Pratap Singh and Moolchand Sharma have looked at this problem from a different perspective.
They rationalized that while it is impossible to bring down soot emissions to zero, it is possible to find a use for the soot produced.
Carbon species such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, and candle soot have shown their potential in many fields,
so why not automobile soot?
It is known that carbon species can absorb various organic pollutants in water. Carbon nanotubes, filter paper, mesh films, and graphene have been used for removing oil from water. Given that the typical carbon content of soot is between 90 and 98%, the team explored the possibility of using this pollutant as an adsorbent of oil and organic contaminants in water.
There is a rapid increase in oil and chemical leakages from oil tankers or ships and industrial accidents with expansion in oil production and transportation in the last few decades,
the authors write in their recently published paper, justifying the need for new materials to mop up oil and prevent catastrophic environmental outcomes.
In an earlier study, Dr. Vaish used candle soot to successfully remove two cationic dyes, rhodamine B and methylene blue from water, thereby showing the possibility of organic from water thereby showing the possibility of organic chemical removal by soot. Extending this earlier work, the research team incorporated diesel exhaust soot into polymer sponges to study their capability to adsorb oil and other organic materials from water. This hydrophobic sponge showed high absorption capacity for various oils, without the need for complex pretreatments.
The researchers found that the highest oil absorption capacity was 39 g/g for engine oil. An interesting observation was that the sponges were recyclable and retained 95% efficiency even after 10 cycles.
The diesel soot impregnated sponge could also absorb pollutants like methylene blue, ciprofloxacin, and detergent from the water. This has practical implications.
Apart from oil spills, organic pollutants such as traces of dyes and detergent coming from industries and households are a major contributor to water pollution,
says Dr. Vaish.
The soot impregnated sponge can help in developing cost-effective remediation processes for common domestic and industrial pollutants. Such a development would additionally serve to repurpose automobile waste.
Watch: Baddi’s Kenduwal dumping yard exposes hypocrisy over Swachh Bharat
Solan: The government agencies in Himachal Pradesh are quite infamous for disrespecting court orders, especially those relating to environmental protection. This time, we have a case where the local civic body first created an illegal dumping yard on a site selected and cleared for an integrated waste management facility and now covering it with soil and mud after the matter reached the State High Court.
In fact, the government does only what the court orders it to do after activists or the common people file petitions. There is a very clear hypocrisy going on over the Swachh Bharat campaign, which is often used to gain political mileage.
So far, the government has given no sign about being serious when it says, “The government is committed to protect and preserve the environment and ecology of the State.”
The ground-level situation of Solid Waste Management (SWM) in Himachal Pradesh can be best used to demonstrate this hypocrisy by both the current and succeeding governments and the public itself. There is no limit to the callousness of the government agencies at both local as well as the state levels.
If we take up a particular case, then Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh area in Solan district is perhaps in the worst state. The Municipal Council of Baddi and BBN Development Authority (BBNDA) are responsible for the collection and scientific disposal of waste generated in the area. Both agencies had joined hands with a proposal of managing waste disposal in the BBN area.
The MC and BBNDA were supposed to establish a facility where collected waste could be disposed of scientifically. They had obtained the clearance for the same on August 13, 2015, and were allotted 42 bighas and 13 Biswas of land in Kenduwal.
However, as expected, the facility never came into existence. Instead, the MC and BBNDA began dumping MC waste at the selected site and turned it into a big open dumping yard. Within a couple of years, the life of the locals residing very near to this illegally created dumping site became a hell as every day they faced foul smell, flies, mosquitoes.
The nearest house is located merely at a distance of 30 meters while the Sirsa river floodplain is not far at about 100 meters from the dumping site. The locals, supported by an environmental group Himdhara Collective, approached the local civic body and the district administration several times with their grievance. None of the two disappointed the locals and, as usual, didn’t move a muscle.
About 1200 villagers wrote to the President of India after they were disappointed by their own government.
The State Pollution Control Board confined itself to issuing repeated notices to the local bodies to solve the grievance of the locals. While the MC and BBNDA didn’t care about these notices, the HP PCB did not proceed to take proper action.
Very recently, the matter reached the State High Court pleading for justice.
In the interregnum, we direct that no garbage shall be dumped into the land owned by the present petitioner or dumped at any other site, save and except, in accordance with law. We further direct the Senior Environmental Engineer of respondent No.3 to visit the site and after inspecting the same, submit his report with regard to the compliance of the statutory provisions,
a bench of then Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goyal had said in its order passsed on October 4, 2018.
However, both responsible bodies violated these orders as well and continued to dump garbage at the same site. The villagers captured videos of the same and wrote an application to the Superintendent of Police, Solan. The SP was informed regarding the violations of the court orders.
The Court directed the Senior Environmental Engineer of the HP PCB to file a status report regarding this matter within four weeks
As per the report of the Chief Engineer dated October 15, 2018, the MC, Baddi and BBND hardly collect 30-40 percent of total solid waste generated, which is about 50 tons per day in this case. The collected waste is dumped at Kenduwal while remaining can be found scattered near the BBN area.
HP PCB has repeatedly directed the Municipal Council and BBNDA to dispose of the waste in a scientific manner in accordance with the provision of SWR,
2016, the report submitted to the court said.
The Municipal Solid waste is being collected unsegregated and transported to MSW site at Kenduwal where it is being dumped unscientifically. Most of the time it remains exposed in an open atmosphere and sometimes covered with soil layer, which is a breeding place for flies, mosquitoes, rats etc. The nearest human habitation is a house located at about 30 meters from the boundary of the dumping site, whereas the flood plain of river Sirsa is about 100 meters away from the site,
the report said.
The court concluded that despite having a clearance for the proposed facility to dispose of this waste scientifically, the MC and BBNDA failed to perform their duties.
We have gone through the contents of the report and are satisfied that prima facie, Municipal Council, Baddi, as well as Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Development Authority (BBNDA), have failed to perform their duties towards collection of solid waste and its dumping in a scientific manner at the MSW disposal site at Kenduwal, for which requisite clearance has been already granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests,
a Bench of Chief Justice Surya Kant and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel directed the MC and BBNDA.
The court also directed the local agencies to take immediate action on the report of the Senior Environmental Engineer.
We direct both the aforesaid Agencies to immediately act upon the report of the Senior Environmental Engineer and submit their respective compliance reports within four weeks. Any delay or defiance will be viewed seriously,
the court directed the MC and BBNDA.
However, the entire waste at the dumping site is being buried under mud and soil.
MC Baddi/BBDNA may be asked to transport the waste as per the past practice of disposing the waste to the Jaypee Plant in Sector 25 of Chandigarh or to Mars Envirotech Ltd. Lalroo (Dera Basssi), Punjab or setting up of ward level compositing/shredding machines till the erection, commissioning and time-bound setting up of Solid Waste Management facility at Kenduwal Baddi, for the cluster of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh area,
the report submitted to the court said.
According to the 2011 Census, the total pollutions of the Baddi MC and BBNDA area were 29911 and 29293 respectively while the total amount of waste generated per day was 25.50 tons and 20.30 tons respectively. The number of migrant labourers or workers from other states was not included in this Census. The populations in both the areas have increased by 2018, which implies growth in a waste generation too. But the responsible government bodies, as well as the district administration, are completely blank when it comes to the chapter on waste management. The Solid Waste Rules, 2016, do exist but only in papers.
The report of the PCB Environmental Engineer aptly proves it.
Baddi MC and BBNDA first create illegal dumping site, now trying to cover it with mud
Solan: The State Government had been bragging about environmental conservation in announcements and speeches. In papers, the status of waste management has improved during the first year of the new Government. The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur says his government is committed to promoting Swachh Bharat campaign as it is the flagship initiative of the current government.
However, on the ground level, the insensitivity and indifference of the government towards environmental protection is only growing. More startling is the way in which the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) and district administrations respond to public complaints regarding illegal dumping of waste.
Rather, the government bodies are violating laws to create illegal dumping sites.
For the last two years the Municipal Council, Baddi, and BBNDA have openly been dumping municipal waste of Baddi town in Kenduwal village which has become a potential health hazard and nuisance for the residents of nearby villages. Since the last four months, the villagers, distraught by the illegal dump, have been petitioning several authorities to stop the dumping.
Now, the BBNDA, instead of cleaning up and ensuring scientific disposal of the garbage, is covering the illegal dump yard with mud and soil. JCB machines are simply grabbing mud/soil from nearby and throwing it on the dumped waste with an intention to bury it.
Last week we met with the BBNDA officials and asked them to stop putting the garbage there. Not only are they continuing to dump the garbage but also put piles of mud to cover the stinking heaps of garbage during the last five days. We are being told that the area will now be turned into a shed and our problem will be solved
said Ghulam Nabi a resident of Kenduwal in front of whose home the piles of garbage has come up.
It needs to be noted that the BBNDA had proposed an Rs.9.7 crore Integrated Solid Waste Management facility in the area in 2012 and obtained a clearance for the same in 2015. But for the last three years, it made no move to set up the plant and was dumping in violation of the Solid Waste Management guidelines 2016 as well as the environment clearance conditions.
On August 12 and 13, the Sirsa River flooded and the dumping site, which is adjacent to the river became waterlogged making the rotting garbage stink badly. The boundary wall was then broken to release the water from the dumping site and the contaminated water eventually made its way into the Sirsa River.
Now they are just burying the garbage and the leachate will contaminate the groundwater too
, said Ramanathan of Himdhara Collective a watchdog group that monitors environmental issues in Himachal.
The State PCB has sent about five notices to the Baddi MC, which were not entertained at all. Despite that, the PCB never proceeded to take action and continue to supply notices.
Through an RTI application we have learned that the Regional Office of PCB in Baddi has served five show cause notices to the Municipal Council in this regards but no further actions were taken,
The BBNDA, in a statement in a newspaper on September 19, has claimed that it has finally identified the firm from Ludhiana for setting up the Solid Waste Management facility.
If they have identified a company to set up the disposal plant why did they cover up the garbage, rather than letting the company take care of it. This is not a solution and neither is it in compliance with the guidelines of solid waste management,
While BBNDA has gone into damage control mode, it still seems least concerned about the laws or the demands of the people.
Our demand is clear, we want this nuisance removed and a proper waste management plant should be set up in an appropriate location. Not near the river or in front of people’s homes,
The Solid Waste Management Rules have clear criteria regarding the selection of a site for waste management plants and landfills, which cannot be on floodplains or near habitations.
Municipal Solid waste has become a serious nuisance across the state of Himachal and a National Green Tribunal appointed committee has recently asked all states to formulate their waste management plans in compliance with SWM rules within a month,
said Manshi Asher of Himdhara Collective.
Long-term solution of solid waste requires an integrated approach involving resident welfare associations of municipal areas, waste pickers and municipal bodies. Decentralised segregation and disposal at source would help to reduce the quantum of waste,
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