Minister for more permits for sand extraction

Minister for Mines and Geology Rajashekar Patil has asked deputy commissioners of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts to increase permits for sand extraction in the CRZ (coastal regulation zone) areas.

This in contrast to the firm decision taken by the two district administrations’ to restrict sand mining in CRZ areas. The bathymetry survey of riverbeds in the CRZ areas in DK and Udupi districts had been carried out to assess the quantum of excess sand that could be extracted from the mouth of rivers in order ‘to facilitate smooth movement of fishing boats’.

Deputy Commissioners of DK and Udupi had been strictly adhering to the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) guidelines on sand extraction.

This led to a direct confrontation between the district administrations and elected representatives and applicants, seeking permits for sand extraction.

In the past, permits had been issued to over 400 persons to extract sand in the CRZ areas in Dakshina Kannada district. But the district administration decided to restrict it to 100 permits this year.

As many as 438 persons had applied for permits so far. Permits had been issued only to 75 applicants who had furnished all the required documents. In Udupi district, permits had been issued to 171 traditional sand extractors in the past. This year, permits were issued to only 46 persons.

Since then the angry Udupi MLA Raghupathi Bhat has been on the warpath demanding that permits should be issued to all the 171 persons. Minister Rajashekar Patil during his visit to Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts on January 30 was briefed about the issue of fewer permits being given for sand extraction in the CRZ areas.

He had reportedly directed deputy commissioners in the coastal districts to increase the number of permits according to the demand. But both Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil S and then Udupi Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Fracis had reportedly ignored the minister’s proposal.

Senthil had highlighted the problems that would follow if the number of sand mining permits were increased.

He had suggested that by restricting the permits to 150, they can be issued through draw of lots every year, sources said.

The minister in turn directed deputy commissioners of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada to submit a detailed report on the issue of permits for sand extraction.

In fact, to review the sand policy, a cabinet sub committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara was constituted in September 2018. The committee is likely to take a decision on increasing the number of permits for sand extraction in the CRZ areas shortly.

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