Black business of sand mining in Gulbarga's rivers

Illegal extraction thrives under the nose of authorities; officials say they are helpless

Black business of sand mining in Gulbarga's rivers

Sand from the basins of the Bheema, Kagina, Mullamari, Bennethora, Bori and Kamalavathi rivers in the district did not command much demand in the region in the past, as these rivers flow through areas with black soil and black stones and the sand is black.

But then, black has become beautiful, given the skyrocketing demand for the commodity following increased construction activities in Gulbarga and the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The sand from the Krishna river basin could not meet the huge requirements of the construction industry.

A truckload of sand, which earlier sold for Rs 5,000, now costs Rs 30,000. As per the sand policy of 2011, 60 sand blocks were identified from among the 16 mines for extraction. Only the Public Works Department could involve in sand mining, store the sand and sell it for construction purposes.

However, all that has changed and sand is now being extracted directly from the river basins illegally. It is so rampant that the very course of the river has been changed in the Kamalavathi basin in Sedam taluk. The story is no different in the Kagina river basin.

A farmer in Bagodi sums up the situation, saying that in a region where water is a luxury, diesel from the vehicles used for mining is contaminating the precious resource.

With the basin choked by weeds, the water rushes into farm fields, destroying the crops. A boy had died some time ago after he fell into a crater filled with water in a sand mining area. 
 
The police officials, who often pay a visit to a temple at Devalaganagapura, turn a blind eye to sand extraction in the basin of the Bheema river that flows close by. This despite the fact that the police station is not too far away from the place.

There have hardly been efforts by the officialdom to contain sand mining.

Sedam Assistant Commissioner Jyotsna had raided mining areas a few times and seized 150 lorries filled with extracted sand and vehicles used for the purpose. Sand hoarded on the premises of a cement company at Shahbad had also been seized.

Former minister S K Kantha cites an instance of the Gulbarga Assistant Commissioner ordering the release of a lorry transporting sand mined illegally and was seized by officials. He says no one can prevent sand mining, when the district administration is not inclined to do so.

Officials of the Mines and Geology department say they are helpless in preventing the menace as they are short of staff and have no offices in the taluk and hobli levels. They say those indulging in illegal sand mining escape by the time officials reach the spot from the district centre.

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