Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday demanded a probe against some Ministers in the Odisha government and some ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLAs who are allegedly in cahoots with the sand mafia in looting precious sand from the river beds with impunity.

Alleging an unholy Ministers-sand mafia nexus, the State president of BJP River Protection Committee, Maheswar Sahu said that it not only causing losses to the tune of Rs 14,000 crore to the State exchequer, it is also endangering rivers like Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Suvanrekha and Rushikulya as well.

The BJP alleged that despite repeated reprimands from the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the State government is largely mum over this issue, cementing the suspicion about the latter’s nexus with the sand mafia.

Speaking to the reporters, Sahu said, “Thousands of truckloads of sand are being illegally excavated from river beds and transported on a daily basis right under the nose of district administrations and Police. The Ministers, MLAs and leaders of BJD are complicit in the theft.”

A delegation led by Sahu and BJP leader Sajjan Sharma met the Governor in Bhubaneswar and submitted a memorandum demanding investigation into the matter of grave concern.

“We have submitted a memorandum to the Governor urging him to direct the State government to form a committee and punish the responsible persons,” Sahu added.