Mangaluru, Jan 29, 2018: Dakshina Kannada district administration has claimed to have opened over 20 check-posts along the porous border with Kerala to prevent illegal sand transportation to the neighbouring State; but they appear to have remained only on paper.
While sand smuggling used to take place through interior roads earlier at least to avoid the public glare, transporters these days have been openly using National Highway 66 to reach Kerala, passing through the Talapady Toll Plaza. The district administration has prohibited inter-State transportation of sand following huge demand in Kerala due to blanket ban on sand extraction in that State.
Before the toll plaza, sand-laden mini trucks pass through a police check point (not a check-post as announced by Police Commissioner T.R. Suresh) and a Transport Department check-post at Talapady. Every truck driver/ cleaner stops the truck at the police point, pays a “visit” to the personnel inside, before proceeding further on his journey.
However, the trucks do not cross into Kerala using the National Highway; instead, they enter Talapady village and move on to some interior roads to join neighbouring Kunjathabail or Manjeshwara. Either, it could be due to strict enforcement in Kerala or transporters’ unwillingness to pay a “visit” to the personnel at the Kerala check-posts.
Other than National Highway 66, illegal sand transportation also takes place on Thokkottu-Mudipu Road, an educational hub.
With the post of the Superintendent of Police remaining vacant after the transfer of C.H. Sudheer Kumar Reddy to Belagavi last week, illegal sand transportation from Puttur, Sullia and Bantwal taluks has also increased, say environmentalists who do not want to be identified. Mr. Reddy had curbed illegal sand extraction and transportation with an iron hand in his six-month stint thereby inviting his transfer, they said.
Extraction rampant : Meanwhile, sand extraction from rivers in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) flouting Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) norms goes on unabated in the district.
Use of large motorised steel boats, use of lengthy poles fitted with net to extract sand from deep in the riverbed, use of earthmovers to load sand onto trucks have not been curbed. Consequently, riverbeds in the district have developed deep craters threatening the fragile ecosystem.