Illegal gravel, boulder extraction pose threat to trout
In a clear violation of Jammu and Kashmir Fisheries Act, the South Kashmir’s famous Lidder stream at Pahalgam in Anantnag district is being ravaged by illegal gravel and boulder extraction which is posing a serious danger to the famous trout fish, categorized as endangered species.
Locals said that despite a blanket ban on any kind of extraction from trout streams, scores of labourers supported by local contractors are seen extracting material at various places in the Lidder stream and loading the same onto tippers and tractors.
“Scores of tippers and tractors are extracting the boulders and gravel from the Lidder stream,” Tajamul Ahmad, a local said, adding that everything is done right under the nose of authorities.
The locals also alleged that there is an unholy nexus between Fisheries Department, Flood Control Department and Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA). However, a PDA official said that the violators are enjoying political backing. “Whenever we seize their vehicles or machines which they use in extracting boulder they use their political connections and free themselves. We are helpless,” he rued.
Experts said that in-depth excavation in the trout streams is dangerous for the fish and the craters caused by sand extraction are affecting the spawning area along the river course, leading to declining in the number of fish. The trout lay eggs in shallow waters that have fine sand, which is also safe for its fingerlings. However, the craters left behind by the illegal extraction may drastically change the course of the river and increase its depth destroying the spawning area.
Deputy Inspector Fisheries, Ghulam Rasool, while admitting that the contractors were illegally extracting the boulders, said: “When I reached the spot I found that contractors have installed some machinery to extract the boulders. I immediately ordered them to stop the act and warned them of dire consequences if they continue the illegal extraction of the boulder,” he said.