How the Aravalis have been gouged, rock by rock | Exclusive

Devoured and degraded.

And now drenched in the blood of a senior police officer.

Stretching from Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and ending in the plains of Gujarat, a natural 700-km barrier to the western desert has been stripped bare.

The Aravali Range, India’s oldest fold mountains, is even older than the Himalayas. But the ancient rocks have been gouged over decades in order to meet the voracious demands of the construction sector.

An India Today investigation found how mafias dynamite, grind and chip away the landscape for building materials.

At Nuh, the scene of Tuesday’s killing of DSP Surender Singh in a hit-and-run assault by the illegal miners, two other members of a local mafia explained how they would blow up the hills and transport the rocks in bulk through secret routes.

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Haqmin and Ifrahim, nicknamed Samar, told India Today’s investigative reporters that they would source gunpowder from neighbouring Rajasthan to make explosive devices used in rock mining.

“It’s done by blasting, placing it (the dynamite) in the crevices,” Samar said. “It has to be done with blasting. Else, it wouldn’t be possible if someone demanded ten truckloads of rocks. Explosions are done at night.”

Gunpowder, he continued, is filled into grenades and lighted from a safe distance. “The blast can be so powerful it can shake a big house.”

Excavators deploy heavy machines and bulldozers as a network of informers keeps vigil all around.

They would issue alerts the moment they spot police patrols.

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“Four to five people will be involved in loading. JCBs will also be there,” Samar said. “Owners of the vehicles are usually present so that drivers do not flee with them. People are deployed at key points. If they spot any police movement, they would call us up immediately and advise a clear escape route.”

According to Samar and Ifrahim, rocks are stocked in the evening and transported out in the thick of night from the Aravalis at Nuh.

“We can fetch Rs 4,000-4,500 per truckload in villages, up to a maximum of Rs 5,000,” Ifrahim said.


The murder of DSP Surender Singh isn’t one of its kind at Nuh.

Varun Singla, the district police chief, recalled his patrol came under attack in December while chasing a fleet of rock-carrying trucks.

“I came under attack in December. There were a total of 12 trucks, but one truck tried to escape and hit our vehicle. We fortunately got saved,” Singla told India Today.


Authorities know that the mafias mining the Aravalis aren’t formally organized.

In other words, illegal excavation isn’t carried out by any single mafia organization with some central command.

“This is not an incident of an organised mafia. It is an unorganised sector running for its own economy,” Singla said.

The mining mafias across the country have had numerous brushes with the law. More than four lakh and 16,000 cases have been registered nationally in recent years.


On its part, the central government restricted mining and construction in the Aravalis first in 1995, followed by multiple Supreme Court orders banning similar activities in the fragile hill range in 2002, 2005, 2009 and 2018.

But enforcement remains deficient.

In 2014, the Supreme Court took a stern view of a report by a designated committee which placed the details of illegal rock mining in Mewat, Bhiwani and Mahendergarh zones of Haryana.

Four years later, the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee found that 25 per cent of the Aravali range had been lost to illegal extraction in Rajasthan alone since 1968.


India Today found another miner running an illegal excavation operation barely three kilometres from the spot where DSP Singh was mowed down.

He admitted to mining rocks from the endangered hills in the Mewat region.

Hasan explained that his men would procure legally-extracted stones from government-approved sites in Rajasthan and mix them up with the rocks mined illegally from Haryana to produce gravel.

While the stones from Rajasthan are subject to government taxes and royalty, the consignments of the Aravali mafias are traded without any levies.

The gravel is sold on the open market, heavily under-invoiced — with no accounting for the content originally chiselled out from the rocks in Haryana, he said.

“Our business is supply-based. We have a (crushing) machine here. We source half the material from leased miners in Rajasthan. It’s then mixed with the other half (excavated from here) and then crushed,” Hasan explained.

“We save 3,000-3,500-4,000 (rupees) per truck. It all depends on the number of trips. We can have as many as ten trips or as little as one to two a day.”

He insisted his group would bribe local officials and police on a per-night basis.

“The bribe is not determined by truckloads. It’s decided on a per-night basis – we can pay 4,000, 5,000 or even 10,000 in one night, depending on the number of vehicles that are in use.”

At Sehsaula village in Nuh district, illegally-mined rocks can be procured easily from the grey market, India Today found.

Asin, who runs a roadside stall, offered to supply stones extracted from the Aravalis by his nephew.

“One dumper (of stones) will cost Rs 11,000-12,000. My nephew will pay Rs 4,000 – Rs 5,000 out of it for himself. He’s the one who mines the rocks, gets them loaded and transports them,” Asin said.

Also Read: | Entire government machinery in Rajasthan is rotten: Supreme Court

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