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Updated: November 19, 2010 12:33 IST

Many sand lorry owners beat GPS surveillance system

Sudipto Mondal
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Illegal transport of sand from Dakshina Kannada to Kerala thriving

Even four months after the much-publicised installation of global positioning systems (GPS) in sand transport lorries under the orders of the district administration, the illegal transport of sand to Kerala continues unabated.

According to data accessed by The Hindu, in the last one month not a single official from the district administration has logged into the website, which receives live satellite feeds about the movement of the lorries.

The Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners (Puttur and Mangalore), Assistant Superintendent of Police (Puttur), and the Deputy Director of the Mines and Geology are the district officials who have access keys to the website. Ironically, the only regular visitors to the website are owners of lorries interested in tracking the movement of their employees.

The website (www.infotech-search.com), to which The Hindu was given access by a source, shows that in just one week between November 9 and 15, 15 sand-laden lorries crossed over to Kerala. In the same period, 26 loaded lorries went very close to the inter-State border. The source said this was a sure sign that these lorries dumped the contraband at a pre-arranged spot from where carriers from Kerala took the stuff to its final destination.

And this is only the list of vehicles which are under constant surveillance. Thanks to lack of monitoring, the GPS on 76 lorries have been tampered with. These vehicles are not under the surveillance of the satellite any more and are free to move anywhere.

After the initial enthusiasm shown by the district administration, there appears to be no seriousness to complete the installation of GPS in each and every vehicle. Of the 600 registered lorries that carry sand, only 485 have GPS and of these 76 have fallen off the radar. Meaning, nearly 200 vehicles are running around without being answerable to anybody.

(One lorry load of sand is worth between Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 30,000 in Kerala. The State Government is supposed to be paid a royalty of around Rs. 300 a lorry load).

Surprisingly, the officials, who can easily track the movement of vehicles sitting in the comfort of their offices, have been carrying out manual searches. “Our teams have been patrolling the border areas round the clock and we have set up three check-posts near the border,” said Deputy Commissioner Subodh Yadav.

But when he was asked why the officials could not make use of the GPS facility, which pinpoints the location of each vehicle, he said: “I will order an inquiry.”

Mr. Yadav summoned the Deputy Director of Mines and Geology and has asked him to submit a report by Friday, official sources said.

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