Mangaluru, Sep 27, 2018: Terming the demand from legislators of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts under the leadership of Minister U.T. Khader to get sand extraction norms relaxed as a move that would facilitate illegal sand extraction from rivers in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area, the National Environment Care Federation (NECF) has invited them for an open debate on the issue.
When thousands of tonnes of sand are lying in the stockyards of the Public Works Department in both the districts, where was the need to allow sand extraction from rivers in the CRZ area, wondered NECF general secretary H. Shashidhar Shetty. It is simply because the PWD’s sand is accounted for while there is no monitoring as far as the CRZ sand is concerned, he said.
Mr. Shetty, in a release here, wondered whether the Minister and the legislators were not bounded by the Constitution and laws and regulations made under it. Lakhs of tonnes of sand from the CRZ area in both the districts, worth over ₹14,500 crore, has been looted in the past 15 years in scant regard to environment laws. Over 90% of such sand was illegally transported to Kerala, Bengaluru, Maharashtra, and other places. This was confirmed by the Lokayukta investigation too.
The National Green Tribunal too had frowned at the administration’s attempts to circumvent strong CRZ norms by allowing sand extraction in the guise of facilitating fishing boat movement, he said. Yet, the elected representatives are bringing pressure from the Chief Minister’s office on the district administrations to allow illegal sand extraction, thereby putting the Deputy Commissioners in a delicate position.
While some legislators claimed that Kerala floods were owing to non-extraction of sand from rivers exhibiting their foolishness, Mr. Khader is keen on allowing transportation of imported sand lying at the NMPT to Kerala, Mr. Shetty said. In the guise of transporting imported sand to Kerala, attempts are being made to transport illegally extracted CRZ sand to Kerala by giving it legal cover, he said.
Mr. Shetty dared the legislators and Mr. Khader to come for an open debate on the issue at either of the district offices at their convenient date and time, if they have respect for the law of the land. He cautioned them not to resort to pressure tactics to force the administration to facilitate illegal activities.