Mangaluru: National Environment Care Federation urged deputy commissioners of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, who are also chairpersons of district sand monitoring committee, not to renew or issue fresh permits allowing sand mining in Coastal Regulation Zonal areas.
“CRZ rivers in DK and Udupi districts are already ravaged,” stated NECF general secretary H Shashidhar Shetty in a letter also sent to the Mines and Geology Departments in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. The letter stated that sand mining in CRZ areas was a banned activity according to the CRZ Notification 2011.
But the Ministry of Environment and Forest had permitted removing of sandbars in CRZ areas based on certain conditions. One of the important conditions imposed was that sand bars should be removed only if they pose danger to navigation of fishing boats and vessels. None of the sand bars in the two districts obstruct navigation or fishing.
The list of 47 and 39 complaints received by Udupi and DK district administrations respectively are fake complaints obtained from villagers.
“The boat registration certificates attached with the complaint reveal that all these boats are fiber glass boats operating in the sea and never in the rivers,” Shetty has stated in the letter.
Sand contractors who had received permits in the past had submitted complaints that sand bars were obstructing their fishing boats. The list of applicants who had applied for permit to mine sand are not traditional sand miners who use buckets or baskets to extract sand with help of non mechanised dinghies or small boats, he adds.
Shetty quoting official statistics stated that 9,87,179 metric tonnes of sand in Udupi and 8,50, 627 metric tonnes of sand (4,30,357 tonnes of sand in 13 blocks in Netravati river and 4,20,270 metric tonnes of sand in Phalguni river) in DK were identified in CRZ areas for mining in 2017.
The usage of sand (Shetty argues that it is easy to estimate by calculating total cement used in the district through GST route) in the district shows a huge gap between the sand extracted and sand consumed. “So where is the huge quantity of sand from the districts going?,” he asks and believes that the hype of sand scarcity in undivided Dakshina Kannada district was stage managed by vested interests.
Boats, vehicles seized:
Bantwal police, led by Assistant Superintendent of Police Rishikesh Sonawane, busted a illegal sand mining racket on the banks of River Phalguni at Badaga Bellur in Bantwal on Sunday and seized vehicles and machinery used for mining sand.
Acting on a tip off from Badaga Bellur beat member, the police led by ASP raided the spot.
All those engaged in illegal sand mining fled from the spot on seeing the police.
The police seized two traditional boats, one earth mover and nine tippers worth Rs 58 lakh from the spot.
All the seized vehicles and machinery have been handed over to the mines and geology department for further action, police said.