Rampant, illegal mining is alleged to have resulted in the collapse of a vital road bridge that connects Kulgam with the Chitragam area in the Shopian district of south Kashmir during the intervening night of Sunday and Monday.
Locals from Reban, one of the villages the bridge connects with Kulgam, speaking to The Kashmiriyat said that the bridge collapsed around night time. The residents of Reban heard a big sound around 11 PM.
“The bridge collapsed when nobody was around, either on it or around,” a local resident said.
The locals say that the bridge collapsed due to the rampant illegal sand mining from rivulets, streams, and rivers. “Illegal mining is rampant across the Shopian district and the contractors who have been giving the mining projects are digging the rivulets and streams against the permitted depth at the identified sand reaches. The mining happens mainly during the night hours. We saw them digging minerals near the pillars of the bridge,” the locals said.
They said that the mining near the pillars of the bridge weakened the bridge and it eventually collapsed due to the increased water levels in the Tongri Nallah of Shopian.
Locals said and called on the authorities to take action to curb illegal sand mining under the bridges and near pillars.
Residents of several villages are suffering a lot due to the bridge collapse now. The unabated mining across Kashmir has evoked sharp criticism in the past.
Sunita Kaul, the BDC chairperson of south Kashmir’s Shopian district said that the officials should intervene in the matter and repair the bridge immediately.
To control illegal mining in the district, especially from the River Rambiara, the District Magistrate (DM) Shopian, recently conducted surprise raids in the Keegam tehsil of the district in the wee hours and seized two JCBs, two Tippers, and one LNT involved in illegal mining and transportation of raw materials.
He directed the concerned officers to ensure that no illegal mineral extraction activities are carried out in the district and stressed for Zero tolerance and said that coordinated efforts are required to curb the menace of illegal extraction of minerals in the district.
The DM gave directions to Police and other concerned departments to give full cooperation and support to the Geology and Mining department in controlling illegal extraction of minerals from nallahs and stressed for inter-departmental coordination to curb this menace forever.
The illegal mining has raised concern in the past among Kashmiris.
Mehbooba Mufti, the former CM of Jammu Kashmir calling for an end to illegal mining had said, “I was stopped from visiting Rambiara Nalla today by local admin. This is where sand extraction through illegal tenders has been outsourced to outsiders & locals are barred from the area. Our land & resources are being plundered by GOI that has nothing but contempt for us.”