Illegal sand Mafias in Kendrapara under NGT scanner

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By Our Correspondent

PATTAMUNDAI/AUL/KENDRAPARA: The National Green Tribunal has asked Odisha Chief Secretary Asit Kumar Tripathy to take action against Kendrapara Collector Samartha Verma and SP Niti Sekhar for failing to comply with Tribunal order over illegal sand lifting on river beds of Brahamni River under Pattamundai-Aul blocks of State’s coastal districts of Kendrapara facing mighty Bay of Bengal.

Sources said, Manoranjan Pradhan and Mitu Das of Pattamundai area have filed petitions with NGT over illegal sand lifting from Brahamni River beds by one sand contractor Birendra Pal Singh. In response to it, NGT had sought report from Pattamundai Tehsildar, Kendrapara Collector and SP while all refuted the charges and had made it clear that no illegal sand lifting there.

But NGT through an independent agency looked into the matter and found that illegal sand lifting going. Senior advocate Debasis Tripathy along with Manoj Panigrahi, Rajesh Sarangi and Debidutta Sethi fought for the petitioners.

Meanwhile, sources also revealed that rampant sand lifting also going in Aul and Rajkanika blocks of Kendrapara. The river beds Brahamani, Baitarani and Kharasrota has been dominated by sand mafias of Aul and Kanika, patronised by local BJD leadership.

However, it seems, sand mafias are ruling the Aul and Rajnagar Assembly seats held by BJD’s Dhurba Sahoo and Pratap Keshari Deb.With rampant illegal sand lifting going on, locals feared for a massive disaster during flood and rainy seasons. Massive illegal sand lifting has created erosion near river bridges in several areas.

In Aul-Rajkanika blocks, one Nira of Aul, happens to be close to BJD MLA Pratap Deb has the last laugh as he controls all most all the sand penthas.

Locals in Pattamundai, Aul and Rajkanika said some influential people are allegedly lifting sand from the river bed using shallow machine-run dredgers and selling it to local contractors.  They said the river erosion has taken a serious turn in recent weeks due to rampant sand lifting by using dredger. 

The under-construction project on the bank of Brahamani, Baitarani, Kharasrota, Kani coverig Pattamundai, Aul and Rajkanika blocks of Kendrapara district has been threatened by illegal sand lifting. Local villagers are in fear of losing houses and crop lands as the erosion of river has increased in recent weeks.

Mines and Minerals Act of 1961 and also the new Mines and Minerals Act of 2015 does not permit for JCB like big machines for sand lifting and violating all norms and conditions, the lease holders drilling 30 ft to 40 to lift sand from river bridges.

In Balianta and Balipatna blocks under Jayadev Assembly seat of Khurda, viral Videos are showing heavy JCB machines engaged for sand exploration work. Sand being lifted by sand mafia by using heavy machinery which is not permissible by the Government of India and Odisha as it goes against “Mines and Minerals Act,1961.

 “We demand that District administration should take prompt action and stop sand lifting at  river bridges  because it will caused damages at the time high flood due to erosion of sand from rivers,” a local in Rajkanika said.

However, official sources said bids have been awarded as per rules and action will be take if anything found illegal during sand lifting. Despite several attempts, on the other hand, contacts was not possible with lease holders.

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