Shimla: After the Beas tragedy brought to the fore the rampant illegal sand mining in interiors of Himachal Pradesh, the government has directed authorities to take firm steps to curb the practise and close all "illegal" approach roads to river banks.
Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri, who visited the site at Thalot today, directed the Larji project authorities and Public Works Department to close all the link roads used for illegal mining activities and ban dumping of debris with in the limits of project area.
Twenty-five members of a group from a Hyderabad`s college, who were on an excursion to Manali, were swept away in the river after sudden release of water from the reservoir of the Larji hydro-power project near Thalot. The group of students went inside the river bed following an approach road, which was reportedly built for illegal sand mining.
The "illegal mining" of sand and stone is rampant not only in the river beds in the border areas of the state adjoining Punjab and Haryana but also in interior areas of the state.
A video footage showing the incident has also captured a a tractor trolley full of sand coming out from the river bed towards the main road.
The complaints of illegal mining in Baddi, Nalagarh, Paonta, Chakki and some other bordering areas were common but illegal mining which was going unnoticed in interiors has come to the light after the tragedy.
The state government has banned extraction of sand and stone from river beds. Immediately after the drowning incident, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had asked the department concerned to demolish all "illegal" approach roads to river banks in all places.
Agnihotri also directed the department to impose a fine of upto Rs 25,000 along with other actions stipulated in the rules against the erring people indulging in illegal mining.