A public forum on the illegal extraction of sand and gravel will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Banica River in Barangay Batinguel, Dumaguete City.

The Environment and Natural Resources Division, of the Office of the Provincial Governor, and the Environment and Natural Resources Office of Dumaguete City, will spearhead the forum.

Reports from concerned citizens to the Office of the ENRD said that residents living near Banica River continues to extract sand from the river despite warnings from the government authorities. There were also reports that some barangay officials are in connivance with the illegal operators.

Dick Encabo of ENRO said they hope to educate the residents living near the river as to why sand extraction is prohibited in the area.

He said he hoped that barangay officials will heed the call for them to help implement the law.

Governor Roel Degamo has issued a memorandum suspending all extraction and quarry operations in rivers affected by tropical storm “Sendong”. The memorandum will be in effect while the river system is not yet completely rehabilitated.

Encabo said ENRO has confiscated bags of illegally-extracted sand from Banica River. He added that while he understood that there are people who make a living out of this, such means of livelihood is illegal and dangerous.

Illegal sand extraction will also complicate efforts of the government in rehabilitating the riverbank, he said.*MA