Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Tehsildar of Badasahi in Mayurbhanj went missing just a day before a sand mafia Pradeep Bindhani was arrested on April 30 for lifting sand way beyond his lease area.

The Tehsildar identified as Mumtaz Maharana was allegedly hands in gloves with the accused Bindhani and had received severe reprimand from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) who after reviewing the ground situation at the Dingira and Arapata riverbed on Budhabalang river had sought an explanation from the district Collector on her conduct.

The NGT even went on to ask the Collector why action should not be taken against the Tehsildar.

As per reports, Pradeep Bindhani was awarded the sand mining lease at Dingira and Arapata riverbeds near Badasahi, but he mined more than his limits and flouted all the guidelines. After repeated complaints by the locals, the NGT took the matter into cognisance and sent a team to the spot to review the situation.

As per the NGT ruling, Bindhani mined 200 percent more sand from his stipulated lease and used heavy machinery to mine the sands altering the flow path of the river. It was alleged that the Tehsildar helped him in doing so and shielded him from the law until the NGT arrived into the scene.

The NGT had ordered the Collector to collect Rs 17.3 Cr from Bindhani as fine for his illegal lifting of sand.

Environmentalist, Vivekanand Patnaik told OTV, “It is evident that all the irregularities were done with the support of government officials. I hope the district administration will take appropriate steps in this connection.”

Sources said that Mumtaz went missing from her home just a day before Bindhani was arrested and she took some documents with her from her office as well. Her mobile phone is switched off making it hard for the police to track her location. She did not even apply for any leave to the sub-collector before fleeing, reports suggested.

The matter becomes more sensitive because the Revenue Minister, Sudam Marndi hails from the same district.

Union MoS for Water Resources, Bisweswar Tudu said, “It is very unfortunate that despite hailing from the district, Minister Marndi has been silent all this while when sand worth crores of Rupees being siphoned of by the mafias.”

Reacting on Tudu's comment Odessa Revenue Minister Sudam Marndi told reporters, “We are taking action against sand mafias regularly. We regularly impose fines on such individuals flouting the law.”