Rampant illegal sand mining on in Kodagu district

Unscientific methods followed in sand extraction have changed the course of rivers

Rampant illegal sand mining on in Kodagu district

The Kodagu district administration has failed to check illegal sand mining on the banks of rivers Cauvery, Lakshman Theertha, Hemavathi and Barapule.

 
Though the government had set May 31 as deadline for stopping sand mining, the unabated activity has continued in the district. Illegal mining is rampant, particularly in Kodlipet and Shirangala in Somwarpet taluk and Siddhapur and Nellihudikeri in Virajpet taluk. The illegal mining has led to huge loss to the state exchequer.

Unscientific methods followed in extracting sand has changed the course of river flow. The task force, which has the responsibility to curb illegal mining, has turned a blind eye. The formation of task force is mandatory as per the state’s sand mining policy. The task force in the district has failed to act  due to lack of co-ordination between various departments. A reality check in the district reveals that the illegal sand mining is on in Ballamavuti, Bengur, Kushalnagar, Kanive, Hebbale, Kottamudi, Bethri and Murnadu areas in Cauvery river bed, Kanunu and Balele in Lakshman Theertha riverbed, Kodlipet and Shirangala in Hemavathi riverbed.

No stock yard

As per the sand mining policy, the contractors should store sand in the yards identified by the Public Works Department. But, the district lacks any stock yard due to which the contractors directly sell sand for double the amount. When the sand mining policy was implemented in the district last year, 38 blocks were identified in Kodagu. Two places each were identified in Somwarpet and Virajpet for formation of stock yards. But, the revenue department failed to survey the land earmarked for the purpose, which had to be then handed over to the PWD. Therefore, no stock yard has been established in the district so far.

Setting up of check posts away from the sand mining sites too has raised suspicion. For example, if sand mining is at Shirangala, the check post is located at Kanive. There are several roads between Shirangala and Kanive to enable trucks to avoid check post and enter other districts.

Compared to other districts, the number of construction work in Kodagu is quite less. Even then, the mining is rampant as there is huge demand for the extracted good quality sand in other districts.

Those into mining and selling sand, break all rules during extraction. Despite the ban on mining using mechanised boats and JCBs, they are used. It is alleged that the contracts are being awarded to well-connected people.  “If we try to stop illegal mining and transportation cases, political leaders will interfere and stop the officers,” said an officer who did not wish to be named.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, PWD Chief Engineer Dodda Siddhaiah blamed it on the lack of co-ordination between various departments in curbing the illegal mining. “Officers from revenue, mines and geology and police departments are not bothered about mining as they believe it has to be handled by the PWD. In reality, it is the responsibility of all the officers in the task force to stop illegal sand mining,” he said.Kaveri Sene Convenor Ravi Chengappa is disappointed that none of their legal fights to stop illegal mining has borne fruit.

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