Cong MLA wages crusade against anti-people mining in Yogi’s land

Despite warning from the UP irrigation department, the Kushinagar district administration has allowed mining on the bank of the Gandak river, imperiling the lives and livelihood of lakhs of villagers

Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
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Biswajeet Banerjee

A Congress legislator is fighting a lone battle against government-approved mining on the banks of the Gandak river in Sewrahi block in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh. The leader of the Congress Legislature Party, Ajay Kumar Lalu, is leading a protest for the last 27 days, demanding immediate ban on mining as it could inundate vast swathes of land during monsoon. Even the state irrigation department had warned the government of the consequences of allowing this practice to go on.

“This has put the lives of lakhs of villagers in peril. It is strange that the District Magistrate has allowed mining on the right bank of the river near Pipraghat dam, knowing well that every monsoon this fast-flowing river is a threat to the people living near that area. The mining activities will change the course of the river during monsoon and will inundate thousands of villages,” Ajay Kumar Lalu told National Herald.

Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Copy of letter to the DM by Executive Enginner to stop mining at the bed of Gandak river in Kushinagar district

He added that he, along with villagers from the area, is holding a protest which entered its 27th day on March 1. “We have met the District Magistrate who sent the SDM and Executive Engineer for inspection. Despite all this, mining is going on,” said Ajay Kumar Lalu.

Interestingly, the District Magistrate of Kushinagar allowed mining despite an assessment by the irrigation department, which said that such mining activity was a threat to over a lakh of people living around that area.

In his letter, the Executive Engineer, Gandak Irrigation Division, which comes under Irrigation and Water Resources Department, said that the mining work being carried out near Pipraghat dam should end immediately because during flooding, the river Gandak had a tendency to flow towards the right as the left side was blocked by silting.

Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Villagers along with Congress MLA protesting against the mining on banks of Gandak river

“This mining is giving a natural space to the river which discharges anything between 75,000 to 1,25,000 cusecs of water during flooding. This high flow of water will not only inundate large farm area, threatening thousands of villages of this area but also will pose a threat to the Pipraghat dam,” he said in his letter.

“The photographs available with us suggest that technically mining in that area is wrong because during flooding, the water flow will be directed towards the dam and the villages,” the engineer said.

Gandak is a fast-flowing river which creates havoc in eastern Uttar Pradesh during the monsoons. As its origin is in Nepal, heavy rains in the Himalayas leads to swelling of the river. The Pipraghat dam was built to regulate the flow of river and direct the water to the lower region when the Gandak swells.

“Mining has defeated the whole purpose. The District administration has allowed mining for just over Rs 4 crore but this decision has put the lives of lakhs of people in danger,” Ajay Kumar Lalu said.

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Published: 01 Mar 2018, 11:11 AM