Himansu Shekhar Rout

Sand mafias continue to rake in the moolah by rampantly plundering minor minerals in various parts of Jajpur, Keonjhar, and other districts even though the Orissa High Court has imposed restrictions on machine-aided sand lifting from rivers. The HC stay on sand lifting through machines has allegedly been thrown to the winds at many places. 

The alleged administrative apathy has instead encouraged the sand mafias to continue their loot with impunity.  

As per reports, the violation of the HC stay is quite noticeable at different ghats of Baitarani, Kharasrota, and Budhha in

Jajpur where sand is being lifted day and night with excavators and powerful compressors. Same is the situation at some ghats of the Kusei River near Deogaon in Keonjhar. The National Green Tribunal, convinced of excess sand mining in Kusei River, had earlier ordered an investigation into it. 

However, the local administration has allegedly looked the other way. 

The lease of sand mining was earlier under the Revenue Department and raids on behalf of tehsil offices were often carried out. It is alleged that after the sand ghat leasing was brought under the Mines Department, raids are seldom conducted. 

Srikant Sahu, a resident of Basudevpur in Jajpur, lamented that truckloads of sand are being lifted with machines from Kamlapur ghat and other ghats in the district while boats are used for sand lifting. “What the administration is doing to enforce the HC stay on machine-aided sand lifting?  When we asked the tehsildar, he said he has no power to carry out raids,” Sahu added.

Ranjit Das, a resident of Markandpur in Jaipur observed, “The sand miners are violating the HC order. The administration is encouraging the mafia to loot the minor mineral. The sand mafia are lifting sand with machines and boats day and night.”

As for the rampant sand loot, Subhendu Kumar Samal, ADM (Revenue) of Jajpur said, “The issues related to sand leasing and mining are the lookout of the steel and mines department. The deputy director of minor minerals will look into that. I will tell the deputy director of minor minerals to take up the issue with the district-level committee.” 

Also Read: Illegal sand mining: MP Aparajita Sarangi slams Odisha govt, alleges involvement of ministers

In Cuttack, most sand ghats have remained closed since January 11 on the grounds that sand mining is not possible without machines. A single truckload of sand was earlier available at Rs 5000 while its price has spiked to Rs 13,000 to 14,000 now. Soaring prices have made things difficult for common people. 

Soumyaranjan Patnaik, a house owner said, "A truckload of sand is priced over Rs 10,000 while a tractor-load is around Rs 3,500. Due to shortage of sand, construction work has been affected.”

  • Reported by:
  • PRAVAT BISOI , Sanjeeb Nayak