Despite more than a decade-old direction by the High Court to redeposit illegally mined sand in the source from where it was taken, the revenue authorities continue to follow the auction route to dispose of such sand.
S. Sitaraman, environmentalist and secretary of the All Kerala River Protection Council, is about to approach the High Court asking for strict implementation of the order to save the rivers from becoming extinct.
He had petitioned the court with a similar demand in June last year. But the court disposed of it asking whether the petitioner was aware what was being done with the illegally mined sand if it was not being deposited back in the river, Mr. Sitaraman said.
Following this, he collected information in this regard from police stations and local bodies concerned through queries under the Right to Information Act. “The response showed that illegally mined sand was being auctioned off. Now I am about to approach the High Court again after the vacation on the strength of the information I have collected,” Mr. Sitaraman said.
The High Court on October 25, 2000, had ordered that illegally mined sand shall be taken back to the place where it was mined from and deposited back into the river. This was recalled in another judgment passed by the then High Court Chief Justice B.N. Srikrishna in 2002.
Mr. Sitaraman has been writing to the State government and district administration officials for the past many years on the need for depositing the illegally mined sand into the river on the basis of the order. “The officials simply ignored my plea. In fact, their violation of the order is a fit case for contempt of court,” he said. Mr. Sitaraman said that about 7,500 dangerous sand pits had been created on river beds in the stretch between Malayattoor and Aluva due to illegal and indiscriminate sand mining. He also said that poll scooping of sand is also rampant in the district despite a ban on it. Asked why the illegally mined sand was not being re-deposited into the river as directed by the court, District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed said that it was not easy to identify the source of such sand.
“Often, the sand is seized during transit and it was not possible to identify from where it was taken,” he said. Court ordered that illegally mined sand should be deposited back into the river.