Mangaluru: Got Sand! Illegal Sand Extraction still going on a Massive Scale in DK

Mangaluru: Even with so many complaints of illegal sand transportation and overloading galore in the district, and even in spite of the Dakshina Kannada District Administration authorising over 500 officials from different departments to check the same and seize trucks violating the rules, even in spite of over 200 trucks seized for illegal hauling of sand- it still doesn’t get any better. Illegal extraction of sand at various location in Mangaluru and surrounding areas is still thriving, and seems like no one is taking any action. Why? Could it be because cops are also associated with the sand mafia in this operation ? Or could be it because of political influence? Answers to these questions have to be replied by God, and not anyone else!

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Even though over 200 trucks were seized in massive operations recently, and maximum penalty of Rs. 25,000 were imposed on the operators under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, but it looks like the people involved in this trade don’t care about it. It is learnt that with soaring demand for sand from Bengaluru region and the government directing supply of at least 200 truckloads of sand from the district every day to the region, the illegalities too are on the rise.

Besides asking forest check posts in the borders to verify documents and load weight, over 500 officials from various departments had been authorized to seize trucks violating rules, who had undertaken the operations in teams. It was revealed earlier by the DC that Compulsory installation of GPS on sand trucks and installation of CCTV cameras in check posts would be done soon, focusing on curbing illegal transportation and overloading. Then why is that illegal sand extraction and transportation of sand is still on the rise?

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Last Saturday, while I was on my way to Summer Sands-Ullal to attend a get-together party, while just entering the new Nethravati bridge on NH 66 going towards Kerala, I saw dozens of boats and few trucks engaged in sand dealing. I was really surprised to note that the illegal sand extraction/transportation was done openly without the fear of law enforcement officials or government authorities. According to sources, while the government has allowed sand extraction from river bed in coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) limits in the guise of ‘dredging’ the river base for smooth sailing of boats, the illegal sand extraction is done in a huge scale.

What is really surprising is that sand extraction is done right besides the Nethravati bridge, breaking the law of sand extraction ban up to 250m upstream and 500m downstream. The ban was imposed to prevent any damage to the new bridge, and also other bridges in the area. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a ride to the sand extraction area, where I was amazed to see piles and piles of sand stored, later to be transported to various destinations by the trucks. But why is no one taking action against such kind of illegal operations still going on in public glare.

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Speaking to few of the residents in that area said, ” It is terrible to bear the noise of the trucks moving back and forth around here, hauling sand from early morning to late evening. No one listens to our complaints, because the sand mafia have the backing of the cops and politicians. Rumours are that cops are hand in hand with these illegal sand transport operators, and that’s the reason they are carrying on this illegal business without any fear. The operators even get prior information from the cops, in case some government authorities plan on raiding the spot. So we are helpless, and we will have to put up with all the noises of traffic, constant movement of trucks etc etc. We hope that the authorities do something about the situation”.

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