Sand and gravel mining in the flood plains in Nepal Tarai is a key income source for local governments of many districts here. Mining offers employment to hundreds of people and business to numerous crusher industries and transporters. But the way in which and the scale to which sand and gravel is mined raises serious question: is it environmentally safe at all, or do we have the slightest idea of the environmental consequences, if it would have any in the course of time?
The reason this needs to be asked is because there were times when we took pride in building roads across mountains to bring economic growth and prosperity in the remote mountain villages. Today, more than 50,000 kilometres of road criss-cross the mountains, only to add to the problems of erosion, landslides, and loss of water sources. Many springs have either lost from their places or shifted to new locations. How much has the road network helped to bring production oriented economic growth is anybody’s guess.
Realizing the problems the rural roads have created in the mountains, the government is working on making it mandatory to conduct survey for proper alignment. May be a similar attention is needed, before it is too late, in regulating sand and gravel mining in the plains as well.
Photo: Pushpa Raj Adhikari in Mahottarai District