Sharmili Mallick

Puri: A joint team of police and officials of Puri district administration and Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (CESU), busted an illegal sand smuggling racket operating in Puri town after conducting a raid at Sipasarubali area under Baliapanda late Thursday night.

As many as 15 trucks, two JCBs and a Haiwa truck engaged in the illegal extraction and transportation of sand were seized from the spot. Police also detained nine truck drivers and are interrogating them to elicit more information in connection with the matter, informed Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi.

Acting on a tip-off about the illegal mining of sand near Light House in Baliapanda area, a joint team of Puri Sub Collector, Executive Engineer of CESU, officials of Roads & Buildings (R&B) division of Works Department, Inspector-in-Charges of Baliapanda police station and Sea Beach Police Station conducted surprise raids in the area yesterday night and seized the vehicles engaged in the smuggling.

As per reports, the CESU Executive Engineer and officials of Baliapanda Electricity Sub Station had earlier lodged a police complaint regarding the sand mining in the region which has damaged the underground electric cabling worth Rs 50 lakh and demanded the R&B division for compensation.

Following the complaint, an investigation was underway and subsequently the racket was busted last night.

In Balasore, villagers blocked Mitrapur-Udala road near Kathapala opposing sand mining from Pundala ghat. They alleged due to illegal sand mining there has been erosion of the banks of Sone river.

Though four sand quarries were permitted on the river bank, there have been instances of illegal sand mining, they alleged.