Bhubaneswar: Unbridled mining of soil in the outskirts of the capital city not only continues to disturb the natural ecosystem but has also raised questions as to how the illegal activities have been going on under the nose of government officials.

Locals allege that both the government officials and the mining mafia are hand in glove in exploiting the invaluable natural resources.

Sources said rampant mining of red soil in several areas like Dasapur, Gothapatna, Chandaka nearby the city has now been a major concern for everyone.

At some spots while the mining activities have left the land with craters, several patch of forest areas have now turned into barren land.

Google maps taken recently which still shows several such areas as forest cover clearly indicates the intensity of the mining carried out in those areas.

While everything seems to be normal during the day time, mining activities intensify during the night. The State government has failed to earn a single rupee due to the illegal mining. Besides soil erosion, the bio-diversity of the area is also in danger, said a local resident.

With the help of anti-socials, political leaders of different parties are looting the natural resources for their personal benefits. The development has also led to a spurt in the crime rate in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and adjoining areas," alleged social activist Subash Mohapatra.

Expressing similar views, lawyer Dhaneswara Mohanty said, "There are laws to stop illegal soil mining in the outskirts of the city and officials of the Revenue department should monitor the situation. However, soil theft is going on incessantly."

Former officials also show concerns as to how the state government has been silent from taking strong action against such illegal activities.

Dr Pitabas Sahu, former Planning member of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) said, "As far as I know there is no particular law to stop mining of soil just the way it is available to prevent sand mining. But as these activities are being carried out on government land, the concerned authorities should take exemplary action to save the environment and stop soil erosion.”

Meanwhile, the Opposition political parties have blamed the administration and the State government over reports of illegal mining.

"If illegal soil mining and morrum quarrying are observed on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, one could easily ascertain what would be the scene at other places of the State. Time has come the government functionaries should get into action," said Sudarsan Singh, Congress leader.

Toeing similar lines BJP vice-president Samir Mohanty said a racket is behind such illegal mining of minor minerals. Those who have the responsibility to stop it are themselves involved in smuggling in this smuggling.
Khurda Collector Nirmal Chandra Mishra has also accepted the reports of illegal soil mining.

"Some unscrupulous elements are involved in the soil mining and illegal stone quarrying on outskirts of Bhubaneswar, Khurda, Tangi and other adjoining areas. The administration is taking steps to register case against them and collect heavy penalty," Mishra said.

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