Illegal Soil Excavation Gains Pace Amid Covid Scenario In Budgam Karewas

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King Bilal

Budgam, Jun 8 (GNS): Taking an undue advantage of the ongoing Lockdown situation, unscrupulous elements here in this Central Kashmir district have engaged themselves in brazen excavation of soil from Karewas.

A group of residents told GNS that some people with vested interests have been continuously using JCBs, Bulldozers and tippers to excavate and ferry the illegally extracted soil from the karewas particularly in Bandgam area. This activity, according to them, has been a 24-hour affair for a considerable period now.

Alleging the authorities of inaction to rein in the land mafia, the locals said that despite them (authorities) knowing about the activity, nothing much is being done on the ground.

The Karewas locally called “Wudher” are under threat as the soil excavation process has seen a steep rise in last fifteen years, with the process only gaining pace amid the ongoing Corona scenario, a local remarked.

An estimated of 20 to 30 % of Karewas in Budgam, Khansahib, Beerwah alone have been leveled after continuous plunder by several construction companies, land mafias and real estate companies, he said adding that “Huge JCBs and other heavy duty earth excavators are being used to excavate the soil which has turned these beautiful hills into valleys of death and destruction”.

A senior citizen part of the delegation said that the soil excavation work on Budgam Karewas began around 1998 after the work on Qazigund-Baramulla rail project was taken up. Hundreds of trucks, tippers were pressed into work by various construction firms who undertook various works for Railways which was executed by IRCON a mega construction firm that was allotted the Railway contract, he said.

He said that there was a hillock in Bandgam area in the district, which however was razed to ground by the construction companies after continuous excavation work.

It is to say that Budgam Karewas are famous for almond orchards, the cultivation which used to be the main source of income in several households in the Central Kashmir district.

As per section 133-A of J&K Land Revenue Act, excavation of soil is banned for personal gains, however the activity is going on wherein in most of the cases it has been seen the land mafias using the excavated soil to fill water bodies to further develop them into residential colonies.

Appealing the district administration to rise to the occasion, the locals have also urged the Geology and Mining Department besides Revenue Department and other law-enforcement agencies to rein into the people involved in the unabated illegal activity of soil excavation. “If the administration and allied authorities are serious about the issue then we expect an action on an immediate basis otherwise the plea may be taken up with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office”, they further said. (GNS)

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