by Michael Rodrigues and Flavin D’Souza, Team Mangalorean Udupi
Udupi: Hundreds of Bharatiya Janata Party workers under the Udupi district BJP Other Backward Class Morcha, staged a protest against the shortage in supply of sand in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here, on March 16.
The protestors demanded the intervention of District In-Charge Minister to set right the problems pertaining to sand mining activities in the district. The BJP Party workers took out a rally from the Manipal Circle to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and urged the authorities concerned to address the issue at the earliest.
Addressing the protesters former MLA, Raghupati Bhat said that there was shortage in the supply of sand in the district which was having a cascading effect on the construction industry, leaving most of the construction work incomplete. The daily wage labourers, who were largely dependent on the industry, had been rendered jobless. The district administration had failed to solve the sand crisis but was encouraging the sand mafia in the district. The shortage of sand had affected the ongoing projects and the construction of houses under various housing schemes by the government. “If the problem is left unaddressed, then it will further aggravate the situation,” he added.
He further said, “We had alerted the district administration and elected representatives on the shortage of sand. However, the negligent attitude of the authorities has aggravated the situation.” He demanded to bring in a separate sand policy for the Udupi district. “If the State government and district administration fails to modify the sand policy by removing a few restrictions in order to ensure availability of sand in abundance, a time may come when all construction activities will halt in the district,” he warned.
Kota Srinivas Poojary MLC and also president of state BJP Other Backward Class Morcha said that people in the district were worried over the non-availability of sand for construction works.
The licence issued to the sand miners in CRZ area had expired on January 22 and the district administration had not taken any measures to renew their licenses. Rains will set in another two months after which construction work will be stopped in the district for about four months. The MLA said that, as per norms, the district administration has to pay 25 percent of the money collected through sand mining to respective Gram Panchayats.
The money collected for 2015 was around Rs 5.96 crore in Udupi district of which, the district administration was supposed to pay Rs 1.5 crore to the respective Gram Panchayats. “Not even a single rupee is released to the Gram Panchayats,” he said.
The construction of around 7,500 houses in Udupi district has come to a grinding halt due to sand shortage. It has also affected the livelihood of construction workers. He stressed that there was a need for separate sand mining policy for the coastal districts of the state.
Former Kaup MLA Lalaji R Mendon, Byndoor BJP president Sukumar Shetty and State BJP unit member Udyakumar Shetty also addressed the gathering. Later the protesters submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Karnataka through the Deputy Commissioner.
Secretary of State BJP Other Backward Class Morcha, Siddesh, Rajesh Kaveri, Yaspal Suvarna, Kiran Kumar, Shyamala Kundar, Githanjali Suvarna, Reshma Uday Shetty, Shilpa G Suvarna, Suresh Naik and others were present.