Illegal sand mining issue rocks Houses

Illegal sand mining issue rocks Houses

Illegal sand mining issue rocks Houses

At a time when there is severe shortage of sand for construction activity, a chit from a “powerful person” can get you truckloads of sand in front of your doorsteps within hours.

Raising the issue of illegal sand mining in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Leader of the Opposition K S Eshwarappa did not name the powerful person but said politicians and their kin were involved in such activity.

“The chit from the person can overrule even official permits. The chit is all pervading,” Eshwarappa said and demanded that a House committee be constituted to go into the illegalities.

He said the rules framed following the sand policy of 2011 had no teeth and had failed to curb illegal sand mining.

BJP MLC Ashwathnarayan said sand was being illegally transported to Goa and Kerala, resulting in steep escalation of cost of the material.

Basavaraj Horatti (JD-S) said the new sand policy had resulted in making things easier for hoarders, and sought amendments.

‘My son not involved’

The issue reverberated in the Assembly, too. Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar said the government needed to be vigilant in the matters of illegal sand mining across the State, as rumours of Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa’s son being involved was making the rounds.

Rushing to defend himself, Mahadevappa dismissed the allegation and said it was far from the truth. “It appears that people are out there to malign me and my son.

My family is not involved in legal or illegal sand mining of any sorts. In fact, we are not even interested in it,” he said.

During the discussion on the PWD, Shettar said illegal sand mining had become a big business and that several parts of the State were becoming a hub of such activities.

JD(S) floor leader H D Kumaraswamy said illegal sand mining had become a lucrative business as it accrued profit without investment.

Goonda Act?

In his reply, Mahadevappa said the government was seriously considering invoking the Goonda Act against the perpetrators of illegal sand mining.

“I admit that illegal sand mining is becoming rampant in the State. It is destroying the market and the lives of several jobless youth who are getting pulled towards this illegal activity. We are seriously considering invoking the Goonda Act,” said the minister.

Replying on behalf of Siddaramaiah in the Council, IT and BT Minister S R Patil said the State government would soon set up a Mineral Protection Force.

Patil ruled out constituting a House committee to look into sand mining but rules pertaining to the new sand policy would be reviewed by the legislature committee on subordinate legislation.

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