Haridwar: While politicians trade charges over the death of swami Nigamanand in Haridwar, his death has once again brought into focus the rampant illegal mining around the river.
Swami Nigamanand had gone on a fast to protest illegal mining along the Ganga near Haridwar.
As NDTV investigates, we find out that trucks and cranes are plundering the Ganga river bed. Most mining operations along the Ganga here are illegal and where government permits have been given, contractors often illegally mine deeper and outside their permitted areas.
With little official supervision, very often, mining is done illegally without any royalty payments to the government, allowing for huge profits.
"It is difficult to stop as the margins are 200-300 per cent. A truck pays about Rs 200 to fill up with sand. This is then sold at 3 times the price in the market," said Alok Kumar, an environmentalist.
Like other cities, the massive construction boom has been fuelling the demand for sand and stone which is used in construction.
And the effects of rampant illegal mining are all too apparent. Satellite pictures via Google Earth show how in 8 years, mining in the river bed at Haridwar has affected the river channel and also caused deforestation.
"We are concerned about illegal mining. They are very well networked and usually have previous information that the SDM's car is approaching when we go on a raid. They also do some mining at night," said Mr Meenakshi Sundram, DM, Haridwar.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had written to the Uttrakhand Chief Minister last year specifically asking the government to rein in illegal mining around Haridwar. After Swami Nigamanand's death, he has now promised to invoke Central provisions to crack down against miners.