Udupi: The sand mafia operating in the district is causing great harm to the people both socially and economically. The lifting of sand from prominent rivers like Seetha, Swarna, Madisalu in Handady, Kumragodu, Varamballi, Uppinkote,Pandeshwar Sasthan, Airody, Haradi, Kukkude areas of the district is causing loss to the state exchequer at large as the policies formulated to govern sand mining are being neglected.
The inefficient monitoring of the mining department has paved way for the rise of sand mafia in the district. The norms floated for sand mining in the district have remained only on papers, while their effective implementation is in vain.
The collected sand is supplied to Bengaluru, Mysuru and also other states. The cost for sand supplied to other districts and states is 4 times more than the actual cost. The sand mafia laments about the scarcity of sand to the locals but supplies sand to other districts and states. Sand is our natural resource but the locals are made to pay the same amount charged for outsiders.
Sand mining operators pay royalty to the state government, but when compared to the market price, it is relatively very low. It is mandatory for sand carriers to supply sand possessing trip sheets. There are numerous vehicles in the district that have no trip sheets but still operate illegally. The officials are aware of the irregularities but remain silent on the issue, allege locals.
Udupi district comes under the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ). Sand mining operators should follow 26 rules formulated by the CRZ authorities. Sand mining licences are issued for spots identified by CRZ. The miners are instructed to not procure sand from deep areas but they lift sand even from depths of 8-10 feet.
Small boats procure sand physically and it is a norm but big boats are used for lifting sand. A norm to not lift the sand below bridges is violated with sand miners lifting sand near Mabukala and Barkur.
Illegal sand mining is rampant in the district. The river banks, islands and roads have been damaged. Children and senior citizens fear to commute due to regular movement of heavy vehicles.
Sand miners in Airody Gram Panchayat limits lift sand and load it in more than 500 carriers, which is supplied to other districts and states.
MLC Pratapchandra Shetty says that illegal sand mining is at its peak in the district and the officials are partially supporting these vendors. A sand mining model code has to be formulated. Every effort should be made to initiate steps in formulating the sand mining code.
Baby Salian, vice president of Airody Gram Panchayat, says, “We have been denied of our resources, and at the same time other states and districts are being helped to avail our resources easily, which is a disgrace.” The licence to operate sand mining was issued in Irody Gram Panchayat limits to benefit the locals first and not the people of other states and districts. Locals have to toil hard to purchase sand, whereas lifting of sand illegally is causing us great harm, she added.
The district administration has to initiate proper steps to monitor sand mining in the district. The sand mining code should be effectively implemented otherwise it will ruin our district, say locals.