Locals and environmentalists tussle over illegal mining

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Nahan (Sirmour) Himachal Pradesh, April 4 : The illegal mining in Himachal's Sirmour district has been causing concern to environmentalists.

The Sataun and Kamroo Villages in Sirmour are the main limestone mining area.

Environmentalists are raising concern over the degradation of mountains and rocks in the region. Though local people, however, feel there has been wide unemployment after a government ban came into effect on limestone mining.

Villagers and a lot of migrant workers from outside the State are also worried over loss of employment through mining.

"If the work is stopped, it is going to be difficult for them and there will be unemployment problem here," said Hukam Singh, one mining labourer.

After 1988, the concept of scientific mining was introduced in Himachal Pradesh by the government and few mines were opened. But locals believe it has benefited only a certain section of society here.

Over 30 mines are allotted in the area and local people complain that it is not benefiting the poorest of the poor here.

"At least 20 to 30 mines having short permits, minerals and other mines are existing here despite government ban, " said Dharam Singh Chauhan, a local resident said

The geological wing of the State's Industry Department is also concerned about unemployment here. It claims all the mining that is being done in Sirmour is being carried out the conditions of the scientific mining methods.

Arun Sharma, State Geologist of Himachal Pradesh said, "In 1988, the consent of the mining plans came and this is entirely the domain of the government, they have all their offices they come and inspect all the mines and see them whether done in a proper manner with regard to safety and all this is in the domain to tackle our mine safety."

Environmentalists point out in the name of employment, the regions' ecology is being affected. They believe there is need to make people adopt scientific mining methods.

Ramesh, an environmentalist, said, "If the mining is done in a scientific way, it would benefit both ways environmentally and unemployment problem will be solve."

Though they also advise that saving environment should also local residents' responsibility illegal and unscientific mining is resulting in degradation of mountains, rocks and drying up the traditional water reservoirs here.

ANI

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