Janakpur, Smugglers are busy in illegal extraction of stones, pebbles and sand from the river while people are forced to stay at home due to corona virus. After the objection of local people Gaushala municipality-12 of Mahottari the ongoing extraction was stopped. It was possible after the constant pressure of local to mayor Shiva Nath Mahato and Kishun Bishwakarma, chairman of the ward. Local people also stated the vehicles used for extraction has been taken away by the smugglers.
During the havoc of global pandemic Covid-19 on last week of March, Mahadev Mahato of Ganeshman Municipality-6 of Dhanusa was arrested for operating Kamala Stone Crusher Industry illegally without renew the license. After local administration got hints of illegal work District Co-ordination Committee went for inspection and police arrested Mahato and legal action has been started against him.
Likewise, existence of Bhangaha municipality of state-2 is in danger after continuous extraction of stones, pebbles and sands from riverside flowing through the Chure. Due to the extraction the underground level has fallen deeper and has resulted to scarcity of water in southern Terai. Law makers, executive bodies, politicians as well as local representatives have been involved in the ill deeds.
Prahlad Chhetri, Bardibas based politician as well as businessman, is representing crusher industrialist in the state now. He was defeated in election of both Bardibas municipality in local level and province assembly. He is a chairperson of crusher entrepreneurs and also coordinator of Federation for State -2 Crusher Entrepreneurs and Mines Management Ad-hoc Committee. He was former chairperson of Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Bardibas.
Entrepreneurs of the state have been using Bardibas as hub of trading of stones, gravels and sands. Most of the crusher and sand excavation center of the state lies in vicinity of east-west highway.
Ad-hoc committee advisor Shambhu Lal Chhetri resides in Sarlahi. He was elected as Constituent Assembly member from Maoist and he is active in Congress politics now. According to locals Nepali Congress has been protecting the crusher entrepreneurs of the state. As local said coordinator and advisor of crusher entrepreneurs are also the leader of Nepali congress. Along with the congress other parties’ leaders are also in crusher entrepreneurship.
On last January 9, Om Prakash Mahato also known as Dilip of Dhanusha Mithila Municipality, Srinagar was killed. Twenty four years Mahato had started a movement against crusher entrepreneurs for environment protection. Locals said Bipin Mahato, operator of Churiyamai Sand Refine Industry, Aurahi and also supporter of Nepal Communist Party case was I under judicial condition at court for his involvement in the case. Mahato operating his industry in rent land which has owned by Dilip’s father.
Though District Coordination Committees of state – 2 directed all crushers and sand refine industries to verify their stock own rural municipalities and municipalities on this January 24, it has not implemented yet. District Coordination Committee Coordinator, Suresh Prasad Singh said they are suspecting the involvement of local government officials till they are not receiving the stock detail of concerned local government. He also suspected that the entrepreneurs might be more powerful then officials of the local governments. Soon after Dilip murder case, Ministry for Internal Affairs and Law at the state has directed chief district officers to control illegal extraction of river bed materials. However, even after two months of its decision the Ministry has yet released its official thoughts about it. While the authority wants to control the illegal extraction of the materials the entrepreneurs stopped it’s all transaction in against of the government step.
Now, Gyanendra Kumar Yadav of socialist party is the state Minister for Internal Affairs and Law. Despite District Coordination Committees claimed they have closed all illegal crusher industries across the state, many vehicles illegally transporting river bed materials are taken in control by the securities at Mahottari and Dhanusha districts. However, the committees yet released the list of such industries they were punished from authorities.
Area Police Office, Dhalkebar seized vehicle along excavator of Mithila Construction Janakpu sub-metropolitancity-14, Mujeliya from Kamala River on February 2. The operator of the construction, Upendra Shah is associated with the than Ratriya Janata Party. Likewise, police seized grit loaded tipper from Samshi of Mahottati on February 5 and informed about these at District Coordination Committees.
The Socialist Party leaders Bikeshwor Goit, CPN leader Binod Shah, Ganeshman Charnath Municipality head Ram Babu Yadav and ward chair Ritesh Kumar Singh and other leaders have investment in crusher industries.
Though Crusher enterprenures are in protest Ram Pukar Yadav, CPN leader has been operating his business without stopping it. For the cause police held excavator and two tractors in control. However, leader Yadav defends him that he had excavated the stone and sand from his private lands. Now, the police already released the vehicle.
Different Evidences, Employees neglecting officials
As Ministry of Internal affairs and law of the state asked Chief District Officer to stop the illegal trade of river bed materials, security personals have collected all data of such industries they are in operation, source claimed. According to the source, District coordination office has the data of registered and renewed crusher and sand refinery industries where as police have the name list of proprietor of all industries that are in operation.
In last week of January, Ministry of Home Affairs has formed five members committee led by joint secretary to monitor and study about 6 thousands crusher industries across the country. However, the committee’s activities are not flashed at outside till now.
Likewise, in district level coordination committee representatives from securities bodies, small and cottage industries are include and which has led by District Administrative Office representative. Though district level monitoring committees claimed they are doing monitoring strictly in their concerned districts, closed industries and not renewed industries are also operating whole nights without any interference, eye witnesses claimed. Locals are not able to complain about these illegal activities due to security threat.
According to legal provision, Office of Small and Cottage Industries of the district could register the concerned industries in the recommendation of local government. Now, the office is under state Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment. Ram Naresh Raye, from the than Rastriya Janata Party is leading the concerned Ministry.
This reporter asked information with Suresh Singh, head of District Coordination Committee, Mahottari regarding the details and decision about crushers and sand refine industries of the district. Though Singh committeed to share all information via email, coordination office Ramuraj Kadariya of the office has yet share it to me. Kadariya is coordination officer District Cordination Committee and Jaleshwor Municipality as well as chief administrative officer of the municipality. Kadariya was local development officer at District Development Office and also chief administrative officer of Gausala Municipality prior that. Locals are talking that Kadariya has good relation with all parties’ leaders of the district. And coordination Singh is also taking decision regarding crusher industries as per the suggestion of Kadariya.
Bajaranga Nepali, former secretary of Nepali Congress, Mahottari said he also heard that politicians are investing their illegal income in business of riverbed materials illegally. However, he has denied the blame about certain political party involvement in illegal transaction because same entrepreneurs are getting protection from different parties and entrepreneurs also easily change their political party.
Minister Yadav has stated that the local governments itself have the right to manage the river bed materials.
Meanwhile, Bechan Chaudhari, information officer of Ministry for Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment has yet sent information regarding crusher industries though it asked two months ago.
Legal Situation, Movement and Solution
In a province level gathering of entrepreneurs held at state-2 capital Janakpur on January 19, Umesh Sherchan warned if they will get chance to do crushers entrepreneurship without any obstruction they even make down to the government because many Mayors, parliamentarians and politicians are also in this entrepreneurship.
Prior than the state level gathering those entrepreneurs submitted the memorandum letter to state head Lal Babu Raut on January 17 with a demand to allow such industries for operation which are registered by laws. The Tourism, Forest and Environment Ministry website has yet make public the data of crusher industries that are registered and operating in the state. Along with the Ministry, Province Police Office has also not made the public the record of crusher industries that are collected by them.
However, source claimed about 300 crusher industries are in operation at the province and out of them fifty percent industries situated nearby highways. Meanwhile, District Coordination Committee already issued letter to close eight industries of Dhanusha, nine of Sarlahi, 12 of Maahottari and 10 of Siraha. Coordinator Singh said municipalities which have highways and close to highways are in highly risk. Out of those, Bhangaha Municipality of Maahottari is also in risk.
Local of the Bhangaha Municipality asked State-2 Minister for Internal Affairs and Law, Gyanendra Yadav times and again to close the illegal crusher industries soon but it could not be materialized.
Due to excessive extraction of rivers at Tarai, buffer zone area started to face shortage of water at there. Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, former president has warned time and again in mass gathering that if state-2 failed to protect Chure from now the tarai will convert as desert in future. However, even Congress leaders of Madhesh took this as badly. But, some leaders including coordination Singh, Bajaranga Nepali of Congress leader, Ram Kumaar Sharma of Nepal Communisty Party are agree with president Yadav.
The state government said they are doing control extraction and transaction of riverbed materials. Meantime, the Bardibaas Municipality of Mahottari called tender on February 21 for extraction, transaction and management of cremate at four places of Ratu River, and from one place from each of Marahaa, Bhapsi and Jangaha river. The lower price of the tender is about 77,000,000.