Locals detain 100 tractors protesting rampant sand mining in Balasore

Balasore: Alleging violation of guidelines for sand mining, locals of Sikharpur in Jaleswar area of Balasore district today detained around 100 tractors engaged in the sand mining work near the riverside village on Thursday.

Apart from detaining the vehicles engaged in the sand quarry, irate villagers also staged a road blockade alleging that licensed sand traders and other mafia are rampantly looting sand from the area under the very nose of the administration.

Naming one Atul Ojha, a local sand trader, as one of the people responsible for unbridled lifting of sand, Laxmikant Giri, a native of Sikharpur village said, “We are aware that Ojha has got the licence from the state government for sand mining here. However, he and several others who have engaged their vehicles to lift sand are not following the guidelines set by the government.”

Giri said that instead of labourers, JCB machines are being engaged to mine the sand leading to craters on the river bed. “The situation, more often than not, is adversely affecting the water content in the river and also threatening alluvial erosion,” he said.

“The sand traders are able to lift more sand than the permitted limit because there is some unholy nexus between them and the local administration,” he alleged.

The protesters have also demanded that an investigation into the matter should be initiated and further alleged that they are being threatened by the sand mafia when they oppose the mining.

“They are threatening us when we raise voice against them. The government should probe into the matter. If not, we will intensify our protest,” said Saroj Kumar Giri, another resident of Sikharpur village.