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RBM worth Rs 25 lakhs looted daily from Sukhnag ?

Not even Rs 1 lakh goes into the Govt Treasury? Environmental loss is more than Rs 800 Crores
02:03 AM Jun 15, 2024 IST | Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
rbm worth rs 25 lakhs looted daily from sukhnag
Pic: Author

After failing to get a Govt job, Peerzada Rayees who hails from village Doenkuel Bagh Sail in Beerwah tehsil of Central Kashmir’s Budgam set up a trout fish farm in his village last year. Rayees, a postgraduate in Chemistry decided to go for trout fish farming after getting some assistance from the Fisheries Department Budgam.


His village is located on the banks of Sukhnag river and there is continuous flow of fresh, cold water which is much needed for trout fish farming. Last year Rayees got the seeds on subsidy from the Department of Fisheries and he was planning to sell his first crop on the eve of Eid ul Adha. Before that could happen his dreams were shattered as he lost more than 2000 fish due to illegal Riverbed Mining-RBM in Sukhnag river.


During the intervening night of May 23rd and 24th the water supply to his farm was halted. This caused the death of more than 2000 fish , Rayees told this author when I visited his farm recently. His father Peerzada Mohammad Ameen, his brothers Javid and Mudasir are all in a state of shock. Ironically till date neither an FIR has been filed against the people involved in this criminal act nor has Geology & Mining Department stopped the illegal work.


It is important to mention that illegal riverbed mining in and around Sail village continues even after the sad incident, and Rayees is watching this helplessly? The Assistant Director Fisheries Budgam & Tehsildar Beerwah made official communication with senior officers of Fisheries and Geology & Mining Departments respectively, but there has been no action on the ground. Till date neither has any FIR been registered against the accused people nor has the Govt compensated the victim. Rayees and his brothers had made an investment of Rs 9 lakhs on this farm but before they couldn’t reap its benefits.


Water supply stopped


On May 24th 2024, Rayees’ brothers woke up around 5 am and found a large number of dead fish in the tanks. When the family inquired how the water supply was seized, they came to know that people who were involved in illegal riverbed mining had cut the supply line to enable them to take out boulders and other riverbed material.


A lot of muddy water had also entered the tanks initially and that was also responsible for the death of fish. For the last 20 days Rayees have been moving from pillar to post but there is no action at all, except two official letters that have gone from Assistant Director Fisheries Budgam to Joint Director Fisheries Department Kashmir.


Tehsildar Beerwah on June 11th 2024 had written a letter to the District Mineral Officer-DMO Budgam asking him to take action against the people involved in illegal riverbed mining. The DMO Budgam told this author on June 14th that he hasn’t received the communication? I had to send the same to him on his WhatsApp number.

My visit to Sail village

On June 1st 2024 this author visited the Dooenkuel Bagh area of Sail village in Beerwah. I interacted with Rayees and his family. I left the village around 7:45 PM and to my utter surprise I could myself see the huge hydraulic machines (L&T Cranes) excavating boulders from Sukhnag nallah. This work continues in broad day light. It is indicative that the authorities have given a free hand to these people?

As per Govt guidelines especially J&K Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2016 after 6 pm no Riverbed Mining-RBM work is allowed. In the Sukhnag case the work hasn’t even been allocated through e -auction and even if that has been done, the work has to be done manually using local labourers and halted at 6 pm. For last more than 18 months heavy machines are plundering Sukhnag at multiple locations like Sail, Doenkuel Bagh, Ohangam and many other villages. The material (RBM) is supplied to a company that carries the same in their trucks in broad day light from Beerwah to Gudsathoo area in Chadoora (25 to 30 kms) .

Every day around 100 plus dumpers / trucks move on this road and nobody is bothered. Had the Govt officially allowed this construction company to carry on this work, the same could have been part of the DPR or Environmental Management Plan, EMP, but that isn’t the case. Our Karewas have also been bulldozed for the ring road project and there was no official approval or EMP for this work as well ?


JK Pollution Control Committee, Irrigation & Flood Control Department, Fisheries Department, Revenue Department and above all the Geology & Mining Department have failed to curb the illegal RBM in Sukhnag river. Every day riverbed material worth Rs 25 to 30 lakhs is looted from Sukhnag and not even Rs 1 lakh per day goes into Govt treasury? Additionally the environmental loss if calculated would be more than Rs 800 Crores.

This amount has to be realised from the accused project proponents / contractors under the Polluter Pays Principle –PPP. This is a universal law and there are several judgments of the Supreme Court and NGT on this. In recent past (October 2022) Rs 35 crores were imposed by National Green Tribunal -NGT on J&K Govt for polluting Doodh Ganga.

This author is contesting that case in NGT for last 3 years and very recently Rs 140 crore were sanctioned for Doodh Ganga restoration and the illegal Riverbed Mining has also been stopped. In fact there are reports that machines are being used at midnight which I have brought into the notice of DMO Budgam.

 Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow & Chairman and Founder of J&K RTI Movement.

He is also Anant Fellow for Climate Action