Harihar Singh Rathore, The Kathmandu Post, March 14, 2018
Kathmandu-The government has cut off power to 29 stone crushing factories and 62 sand washing plants located along the Prithvi Highway in Dhading for evading taxes and causing pollution in the Trishuli River.
A supervision committee led by Chief District Officer (CDO) Shyam Prasad Bhandari switched off their electricity after they repeatedly ignored notices about pollution control and other standards.
“We shut down all crushers and sand washing plants on the Prithvi Highway to stop revenue evasion, land misuse, a rise in accidents due to increased tipper traffic and power theft,” said CDO Bhandari.
In 2015, the government stopped renewing the licenses of crushers all over the country citing the violation of regulations.
The stone crushing factories in the district have been conducting transactions worth tens of millions without a valid license and without paying taxes.
These factories located on the side of Prithvi Highway have been extracting riverbed materials illegally from the Trishuli River and smaller rivers like the Agra, Belkhu and Malekhu Ankhu.
The government ban on renewing crusher licenses remains, but that has not stopped the factories from continuing operations.
“As the government is unable to implement clear policies and regulations regarding the crusher industry, entrepreneurs involved in this business have been acting on their own,” said CDO Bhandari.
The district office of the Department of Mines and Geology has issued licenses to only two firms, but more than a dozen illegal mines are operating in Dhading.
Each licensed mine in Gajuri and Galchi are allowed to extract up to 26,000 cubic meters of sand annually.
“However, our study shows that each mine in Gajuri and Galchi has been selling an extra 150-200 tipper-loads of sand daily,” said Kedar Khadka, member of the District Riverbed Materials Supervision and Coordination Committee.
Local level officials are involved in dozens of illegal sand and stone mines
operating near the highways in the district, said Assistant-CDO Dholak Raj Dhakal. “Once stone crushing and sand washing factories violating standards are shut down, illegal mines will automatically close.”
Around 30 crushing plants are operating in Dhading district near Prithvi Highway. Parsu Ram Regmi, chairman of the Stone and Sand Industry Entrepreneurs Association, said that it was not right to shut down factories by cutting off their power without prior notice.
“Instead of assisting development work by regulating and managing such firms, the government has only helped to push up prices of riverbed materials by halting their extraction close to the end of the fiscal year when development activities intensify,” he said.
Chairman of Gajuri Rural Municipality Rajendra Basnet said, “We are now preparing to register and regulate them at the local level by implementing clear laws and regulations as local units now have jurisdiction over natural resources.”