Illegal mining threatens another historic rly bridge in Kangra

Ravinder Sood

Palampur, August 25

Illegal mining that continues unabated in the Binwa rivulet at Baijnath in Himachal's Kangra has endangered another railway bridge on the heritage Pathankot-Jogindernagar track, besides posing threat to an adjoining highway bridge and the famous 13th century Shiva temple in the town.

Baijnath temple faces risk too

  • Illegal mining poses risk to the retaining walls of the 13th century Shiva temple Baijnath
  • The activity also threatens nearby bridge on the colonial-era Pathankot-Jogindernagar rail track
  • The foundation of an adjoining NHAI bridge is also being weakened

Despite tall claims by the local administration and the Mining Department, a large number of mules can be seen carrying extracted sand and gravel from the rivulet's banks. The illegally mined material was transported on mules to certain points from where it was shifted to vehicles by the mining mafia for further sale, said Ghanshyam Awasthi, an environmental activist.

Awasthi said several sand and gravel dumps could be seen on the Pathankot-Mandi highway. Deep trenches dug by the mining mafia on the riverbed had weakened the retaining walls of the temple as well as the pillars of the two bridges, said residents Subhash Chand and Neeraj Mehta.

A colonial-era bridge on the Pathankot-Jogindernagar rail track over the Chakki rivulet in Kangra's Nurpur was washed away following heavy rain recently, an incident attributed by green activists to illegal mining.

According to the state government's policy, mining cannot be carried out within 100 metres of a bridge. Sources said in view of the temple, a complete ban had been imposed on mining in the Binwa. The mining mafia, however, is engaged in the illegal activity right next to the foundation of the bridges and the temple's retaining wall. A few residents claimed that they had brought the issue to the notice of the mining authorities and the local administration, but to no avail.

Baijnath SDM Saleem Azam said "necessary action had been taken against those engaged in illegal mining in the past". He said he would ask the District Mining Officer to act against the offenders as per law. District Mining Officer Rajeev Kalia did not respond to repeated calls on his phone.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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