Now, sand from DK crosses border with fake passes

As the authorities’ crackdown on the illegal sand smuggling from Karnataka to Kerala has slackened, the sand smugglers are back to business with novel strategies.

Now, sand from Nethravathi has been crossing Thalapady border using fake passes issued from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.

Two months back, two loads each of smuggled sand was seized by Kumbala police at Kumbala and Manjeshwar. The cops recovered passes issued by the commercial tax department and mining and geology department of AP, Maharashtra and Odisha. The suspicion of Kasargod police made them to visit Nanded in Maharashtra, and they found that though the pass was original, the seal had been forged. The same happened in the case of AP and Odisha  passes.

"Transporting three or four loads of ordinary sand from such long distance frowned us. A team, under the leadership of Kumbala ASI Surendran reached Nanded and the Tahasildar there had confirmed that they had ceased issuing of sand passes from last June 12 due to the complaint of rampant forging of fake passes,” Kumbala SI K V Gandhadharan told Deccan Herald. Upon interrogation, the arrested driver and cleaner of sand-laden truck confessed that sand was from River Nethravathi. It may be noted that the inter-state transporting of Karnataka sand had been banned by a government rule with a temporary exception given to Lakshwadeep.

Inter-state racket

The Kumbala SI said that though the pass was original, the seal was fake. “They might have obtained the pass before the banning,” he added.

The police say that forging of seals throw light on the entrenched inter-state racket of sand smuggling which needs to be probed much deeper.

One of the fake sand passes, of which DH has a copy, indicate that the consigner, V Murali Mohan at Gunjigoan quarry in Nanded was transporting 2 brass of ordinary sand to one M P Khaleed of Kumbala, Brambana in Kasargod. The date mentioned in the pass is July 7, 2014.

The pass bears the seals of the commercial taxes integrated checkpost at Saloora in AP, the checkpost of commerical tax depatment of Karnataka and Kerala (both at Thalapady). Upon investigation, it has been proved that the seal of Saloora checkpost had been forged.

Likewise, police suspect that trucks of sand load from Nethravathi had been crossing Karnataka border in the wee hours showing Maharasthra and Odisha issued passes at the checkposts of Karnataka and Kerala. A commercial tax official in Kasargod on condition of anonymity told that daily atleast more than 40 trucks enter Kerala in this manner. In the invoice, the price for 2 brass of normal sand has been put at Rs 6,000, plus Rs 300 as tax. Last year, a truck load of Karnataka sand had been seized at Deli in Kasargod and the recovered sand pass was found to be fake.

Directive to checkpost

In the light of transporting sand using fake passes, Kasargod DySP T P Ranjith has written to the Assistant Commissioner of Commercial tax department in Kasargod to facilitate the checking of sand laden vehicles from other states by special squad at checkpost.

“If any commodity is being taken from a registered dealer, we can trace the origin of the travel and the entire route through online. But this is not possible for commodities bought from non-registered dealers. Also, to check the authenticity of each and every seal on a single pass by visiting those states too is not feasible,” the DySP told Deccan Herald.

Earlier, sand-smugglers had resorted to transport river sand disguising as silica sand, which has been permitted to transport as it is a major raw material for manufacturing tile, glass etc.

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