Mangaluru, Dec 11, 2018: As some passengers, including a few women, were waiting for a bus towards Mangaluru at Arkula bus shelter on National Highway 75 early on Monday, an empty sand truck zoomed past the bus shelter on the wrong lane scaring those passengers.
“This has been a regular affair along the highway ever since sand extraction from the Netravathi resumed,” the woman rued, saying that passengers are wary of waiting for buses at the shelter. She said that truck drivers never bother about people and just drive against normal traffic as if they owned the road, she told The Hindu .
Sand truck drivers take dangerous turns at medians provided on the four-lane NH 75 and drive against traffic in their hurry to reach or come out of the sand yard. Instead of going an extra kilometre to take the U turn to join the main traffic on the other side of the highway, these drivers throw safety norms to the wind just to speed up sand transportation which, in turn, helps faster sand extraction from the riverbed, said another passenger waiting at the bus shelter near Valachchil.
Strict norms followed by the District Sand Monitoring Committee while issuing permits appears to have gone in vain after permits were issued to 76 people to extract sand from 12 identified sand bars in the Coastal Regulation Zone on the Netravathi and the Phalguni (Gurupura) in Dakshina Kannada. Considering only traditional extractors who were engaged in extraction for over five years and using GPS to mark sand bars, the committee had issued permits, bringing the numbers from over 400 two years ago to just 76. Each permit holder was authorised to deploy three traditional boats and extract sand using traditional methods. However, motorised large steel boats for sand extraction and earthmovers to load sand onto trucks are being used along the Netravathi in flagarant violation of the norms.
Near the Farangipet sand yard (boat landing yard for people commuting between Farangipet and Innoli), more than 30 boats were seen deployed for sand extraction on Monday morning. While earthmovers were roaring in the adjacent sand yard, trucks were lined up to transport sand as fast as possible.
Deputy Commissioner S. Sasikanth Senthil said that the administration would tighten the enforcement soon and bring order to the whole exercise.