Pradeep Pattanayak

Notwithstanding steps taken by the administration and the National Green Tribunal’s prohibition, illegal sand mining is still going on rampantly on the bed of the Subarnarekha river in Balasore district. 

After action against the miscreants, who attacked the Balasore Sub-Collector, it was expected that illegal sand mining would come to a halt. But the sand mafia proved it wrong and illegal mining is still going on as if nothing had happened. 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a ban on sand lifting from the Subarnarekha river. But, sand mining from the river at Dakhina Praharajpur under Jaleswar block is still going on rampantly with the administration looking the other way.  

“Illegal sand mining is a perennial problem. And it is going on at the instance of the Collector, the Sub-Collector, the Tehsildar and police officers,” complained a Jaleswar resident, Phalguni Panigrahi. 

“If the police seize the trucks engaged in illegal sand transporting and forward them to the judicial instead of collecting fines, it may have an impact on them,” observed Binay Kumar Mohanty, a former administrative officer. 

The same picture is emerging from areas like Basta, Baliapal, Remuna, Sadar block and Nilagiri. It has been alleged that the sand traders are selling sand from the dumping site during the day time and during the night time; the empty space is being filled up.

Local residents alleged the administration is well aware of this innovative way of plundering sand but taking no steps to check it. 

“After mining, sand is piled up at a storage point. The volume of stock never comes down. But day in and day out, hundreds of tractors and trucks are transporting illegally mined sand. And such illegality is going on with the knowledge of the administration,” alleged environmentalist Sudarshan Das. 

When contacted, Balasore district Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde said, “We had received complaints of illegal sand mining from Baliapal and Jaleswar blocks. We have written to the SP asking him to set up a check gate each at Baliapal and Jaleswar and ensure round-the-clock checking.”