BUTWAL, Feb 16: A district monitoring committee has thwarted an attempt by Rupandehi District Development Committee to legalize illegally extracted construction aggregates, especially gravel and sand.
The monitoring committee led by the chief district officer claimed that the district development committee (DDC) proposed to permit the export of quarry products extracted in disregard of the environment impact assessment (EIA).
Stating that there was no stock left in the crusher mills, the DDC had proposed to pave the way for the export of gravel and sand extracted from various rivers in the district.
However, the monitoring team found hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of gravel and sand extracted illegally and stocked at various crusher mills in the district.
According to CDO Hari Krishna Poudel, all the crusher mills now need to show the source of the construction material they hold in stock. CDO Poudel also informed that crushers mills failing to show the source of their construction material would face action.
With the monitoring committee intervening in the legalization process for the export of sand and gravel, secret deals by DDC staff to exact hundreds of thousand from crusher mills through the legalization of illegal sand and gravel have been disrupted. Such deals were exposed in a news report.
The DDC recently opened up the export of sand and gravel from the Tinau, Danab and Rohini rivers following an EIA report. But crusher mills had lobbied for the legalization stocks of such construction material extracted illegally before the preparation of the EIA report.
According to a DDC source, the rivers can no longer yield the construction material needed for the crusher mills as they had already extracted such materials. The crusher mills had already hauled the construction material to their godowns through illegal channels
According to records at Bhairahawa Customs office, a total of 120,913 cubic feet of sand and 583,749 cubic feet of gravel were exported from the district in fiscal year 2011/2012.
The monitoring team had permitted the export after assessing stocks -- 171,744 cubic feet of sand and 790,646 of gravel -- for the period. Only 50,831 cubic feet sand and 28,896 cubic feet gravel were permitted for export. As per the customs record, only these amounts are legal for export.
But most of the crusher mills still have thousands of cubic feet of illegally extracted material at present.
Two years ago, the DDC had stopped the extraction of construction material from the rivers, stating that any extraction would be illegal prior to the EIA at the sources. Even then, the crusher mills had continued to extract rock and sand from the rivers, amassing a huge stock of the illegal construction material.