Mangauru, Nov 02, 2016 : Those who extract sand in Dakshina Kannada are openly flouting environmental norms laid down in their permits and are deploying motorised boats in rivers in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ).
Violating the conditions, heavy machinery is being used to load sand into lorries.
The breakdown of environmental regulations comes in the wake of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change permitting sand extraction in CRZ areas as a special case “only to facilitate smooth movement of fishing and other boats.”
Earlier, CRZ notifications completely banned extraction of sand and other sub-strata material in the zone.
The number of “traditional sand miners” in Dakshina Kannada has risen dramatically from about 13 a decade ago to over 400 this year. Over 7.8 lakh tonnes of sand were extracted from CRZ during 2015-16, made possible by the district administration’s implementation of a “permits-on-demand” approach.
When things were getting out of hand, outgoing Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim moved in to enforce regulations. Incumbent Deputy Commissioner K.G. Jagadeesha said permit holders would be allowed to extract sand only if they follow the conditions.
This led to a delay in resumption of sand extraction after the August season. While the contractors and the district administration claim that all conditions are being followed, the situation on the ground presents a different picture.
Large steel boats, equipped with outboard engines, have replaced traditional boats once again. Although machinery is not used to unload sand from boats to river banks, bulldozers and earth movers are deployed to load sand into lorries.
This machinery is at work early in the morning and disappears after sunrise.
Permit-holders or their representatives keep a close watch on the activities at the ‘dhakke’ (riverside sand dumping yard) questioning every new face.
Residents of Inoli, Pavoor, Arkula, Adyar and surrounding places on the banks of the Netravathi, the worst-affected areas, are convinced that the violations are possible only because of political patronage.
The district administration reiterated that action would be taken for violation of permit conditions.
Mr. Jagadeesha said he would ask the 16 special teams to intensify checking, but added that officials in the team hailing from different departments had their own work to attend to as well.
Mangaluru City Police Commissioner M. Chandra Sekhar promised action and said he would recommend cancellation of permits if conditions were violated.