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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: Even if the Odisha revenue department has prepared a new action plan to curb unauthorised mining of minor minerals, the unbridled illegal practice still continues unabated in some places of the State raising questions if the initiative will actually be successful.

A recent glaring example of the illegal mining has come to fore from the banks of Subarnarekha river near Mahulia along Balasore-Mayurbhanj border where rampant extraction of sand continues despite public protest.

According to reports, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed ban on the sand mining at the site. Though NGT team sometimes visit the place for inspection, locals allege that the illegal sand mining continues to go on rampantly under the very nose of the administration.

This is not an isolated case. Illegal mining of sand is also rampant in Tikayatpur, Rajnagar, Mankidia of Sikharpur and Chandipur Rajghat of Basta.

“Due to loot of hundreds of trucks of sand every day, the path of the river is changing. It is also leading to riverbed erosion and increasing the risks of earthquake,” said Alok Ghadai of Jaleswar.

Similar is the situation of gravel mines at Mirigini of Nilagiri. Though the administration has banned the illegal mining five years back, there is rampant blasting and transportation of the stone. Similarly, the illegal gravel mining is underway at Rigidi and Baghmara of Nilagiri.

“If the illegal mining is stopped, the dust coming out of the mines will not pollute the environment here and our domestic animals will graze on the land and people will live peacefully,” said Basanti Mallick of Mirigini village.

Kartik Singh of Baghamara said, “The mining mafias and middlemen are rampantly extracting minor minerals. The administration is not acting against them as if there is a nexus between them.”

State Revenue minister Sudam Marndi, said, “We have already directed collectors to immediately stop illegal mining. Our staffs are taking action if they find any illegal activities. We are mulling as to how more stern action can be taken to stop the practice."

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