Rashmi Ranjan

Tightening its noose on illegal sand mining, the Balasore Police on Saturday launched 'Operation Sandstorm' to put a brake on illegal mining and lifting of minor minerals in the district.

The move came just a day after Balasore Sub-Collector Kunal Motiram Chavan was allegedly assaulted by the sand mining mafia at Dahapada under Sahadevkhunta police limits. 

On Saturday, Chavan, who sustained injuries in yesterday’s attack, led a raid on an illegal brick kiln and razed it using three bulldozers.

“We had already served notice to the brick kiln owner last month for operating without prior permission. Neither there is environmental clearance, nor permission from collector’s office. Action will be taken against other illegal brick kilns soon,” Chavan said.

Meanwhile, Balasore Police have arrested 11 persons including three women in connection with the attack on Chavan.

Under Operation Sandstorm, each SDPO of Balasore police district has been tasked with identifying areas, where rampant sand and other minor mineral mining is being carried out despite NGT ban. Planned proactive action against illegal mining in the district will be taken under this operation, sources in police said.

Balasore Police will take stringent action, which includes registering criminal cases against the perpetrators and initiating financial investigation against them. 

Under this initiative, Nilagiri Police has apprehended seven persons and detained six tractors and one tipper from Sono River bed on charges of illegal sand mining. Criminal case under OMMC Act will be registered against the accused, sources in the police informed.

“Balasore Police has launched Operation Sandstorm. As part of the operation, we will take stringent action against illegal sand and minor mineral mining,” said Sagarika Nath, Balasore SP.

On the other hand, lease holders have alleged that the administration is putting them into trouble by seizing their vehicles. Alleging inconvenience being caused by the administration, a lease holder Karunakar Das staged protest in front of Balasore Tehsil office couple of days back.

“I have leased sand mine at Dahapada. As per the agreement, I need to pay Rs 10.2 lakh annually. Even after paying Rs 10 lakh, I am yet to get the operation order,” alleged Das.

(Reported by Rashmi Ranjan Das, OTV)