Illegal mining common on Himachal-Punjab border: Minister

Shimla, Aug 27 (IANS) Taking advantage of the unclear boundary between Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, illegal mining is common along the Chakki stream that flows between the two states, Revenue Minister Kaul Singh said on Thursday.

“In Kangra district along the Chakki ‘khad’ or stream dividing Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the interstate boundary is unclear and has led to harassment of Himachalis at the hands of illegal mining mafia from Punjab,” the minister informed the assembly.

Kaul Singh said during Question Hour that the deputy commissioner of Kangra took up the matter with the Punjab government on June 29 for joint demarcation of the interstate boundary.

“The response of the Punjab government is still awaited. The deputy commissioner has also been directed to send a report on follow-up action and factual position to the government so that the issue could be taken up at the government level with Punjab to resolve mutually,” the minister said.

He said this issue was also taken up with Punjab in 2005.

The state assembly witnessed heated exchanges in April 2012 when Independent legislator Rakesh Pathania threatened to take up the gun to fight the mining mafia that is active in Nurpur area of the state.

He alleged that erstwhile state industries minister Kishan Kapoor was protecting illegal mining.

“The government is losing more than Rs.200 crore per annum because of illegal mining. Where are you (minister) sleeping and where is your mining staff,” Pathania said.

Official sources told IANS that the more than 84-year-old railway bridge on the Chakki river was washed away due to flash floods in 2011 due to illegal mining.

The Northern Railways had informed the Himachal Pradesh High Court that the bridge collapsed due to unscientific mining in the Chakki stream in Pathankot and Kangra districts.

The bridge was constructed by the British in 1928 when the Sanan hydel project in Jogindernagar (hill station) was set up. It was the only bridge connecting Pathankot and the Kangra valley.

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