National

Palpa folk concerned about adverse effects of coal mining

- MADHAV ARYAL, JHADEWA (PALPA)

Feb 27, 2019-

Locals of Jhadewa, Mathagadhi-4 of Palpa, have demanded coal extraction in the area be stopped. The reason being the adverse effect mining is inflicting on their quality of life and environment.

Coal mining in Rohinibas, Pipaldanda and Makale areas of Jhadewa alone is not a cause for concern. Locals said that because of the mining vast tracts of lands have started to cave in, and landslides are becoming a frequent phenomenon and water shortages a daily reality. The mining industries had gotten permission to extract coal 14 years ago in this area, and have been continuing to so till date.

“We didn’t expect this to happen when the project started but the mining has seriously put the environment at risk,” said Sudarshan Rayamajhi, a native of Mathagadhi-4. Thirteen families living in Pipaldanda are living with a constant fear of landslides.

According to locals, tracts of land are caving in and threatening the survival of the residents of Thapandanda, Muntung, Kafaldanda, Marsidanda, Udadanda, Simladi, and Chirtung among other areas. Laxman Rayamajhi, a resident of Jhadewa, said more than a 100 landslides have occurred at Devgir, Makale, Pipaldanda and Japla areas of Jhadewa till date. “We had initially protested strongly against mining but the mine operators assured us change would happen. Also, coal mine operators are backed by local political leaders and we can’t do much to deter them from mining,” said Rayamajhi.

“Last year, a coal mining industry came to us and promised construction of village roads and installation of electricity lines in the village; however, nothing has been done so far,” said Ambisara Saru, a local woman

of Jhadewa.

Currently, Mahalaxmi Coal Pvt Ltd, Palpa Coal Pvt Ltd and Tribeni Coal Pvt Ltd have permission from the Department of Mines and Geology to extract coal. And since the companies started dumping coal in forests and village areas, locals have started complaining of increased levels of air pollution.

Locals said that 40 to 50 metres of underground tunnels have been constructed for coal extraction without informing them. Bishnu Prasad Sigdel, a resident of Jhadewa, said that the mining is leading to soil corrosion in extreme cases as well. “The production of crops will be affected with coal being scattered in the farmlands. We demand the authorities to take steps to mitigate the harm being done to the settlements and the environment,”

said Sigdel.

According to locals, companies have constructed tunnels within 50 metres of human settlements, which is against the Mines and Minerals Rules 1999. Ram Prasad Khanal, a local teacher, said that the coal industries should act responsibly towards the environment. “All of the concerned stakeholders should be aware of the repercussions of this uncensored practice of coal mining,” said Khanal.

Kishor Dahal, a representative of Mahalaxmi Coal Pvt Ltd, however, said that they have been extracting coal after coordinating with all stakeholders. “The Division Forest Office has agreed to inspect the area and know the details of the situation,” said Dahal, adding that they got permission to extract coal from the Department of Mines and Geology.

Published: 27-02-2019 08:43

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