Construction boom: Illegal sand extraction continues despite ban

Huge profit margin lures even influential politicians

Construction boom: Illegal sand extraction continues despite ban

Illegal sand extraction from river beds in the district has become rampant due to great demand in Bangalore and Mysore — driven by boom in construction activities.

While a load of sand costs Rs 10,000 in Mandya, it fetches up to Rs 25,000 in Bangalore.
So, even after deducting the transportation and other expenditure, the profit margin is huge, considering that the whole process is illegal and the whole load comes free of cost.

Now, the illegal trade has attracted even influential politicians. Hence, officials, who should curb the menace and penalise the accused, are playing safe. They have turned a blind-eye towards the affair. Cauvery, Hemavathy, Shimsha, Lokapavani and Veeravaishnavi Rivers are being dug up to satiate the greed of illegal sand extractors.

Licences have been issued for extraction of sand legally at a few points at Malavalli (Cauvery) and K R Pet (Hemavathy) taluks only. However, sand extraction is going on illegally in almost all taluks. At least 200 lorries are involved in transporting sand to Bangalore from Malavalli and Maddur taluks alone. Sand from KR Pet and Srirangapatna is transported to Mysore. Even check-posts have failed to check sand transportation.
During 2012-13, 75 cases had been booked and Rs 1.65 crore was collected as fine from violators. This year, from April 1, 15 cases have already been booked.

But, these figures are negligible, considering the number of lorries transporting sand to neighbouring cities. The license for 2012-13 has expired and new licenses are yet to be issued, some may be renewed. But, sand extraction has not stopped.

The bridge constructed across Shimsha River at Vaidyanathapura in the year 1994 collapsed within a year due to weakening of the foundation, as a result of sand extraction.

So, sand extraction was banned in the year 2000 itself.  A stop gap arrangement has been made in the form of a metal bridge connecting the remaining portion of the bridge in 2010.

 Now, tenders have been floated for the construction of the bridge and funds have been sanctioned. But, contractors are not showing interest in the project, fearing that the bridge may collapse again — due to the unstable ground on the river bed.

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