For people residing in Ranadive Nagar, a little upstream Kanakadurgamma Vaaradhi, there is little peace in the mornings. Many of them sleep in the open for the cool breeze that blows from the river. But at 3 a.m., they are rudely woken up by the hectic hustle and bustle of total strangers hauling sand unabashed through their backyard.
The sand smugglers are digging sand in large patches very close to the pillars of the Vaaradhi and some people fear it could impact the life and stability of the bridge.
“The disturbance caused by these “sand smugglers” is growing day by day,” complained A. Giri, a carpenter by profession. After a backbreaking day, a good night's sleep is very important for him. He finds most annoying and
disturbing the yells and grunts of people hauling sand bags from 3 a.m.
What was once just a trickle, sale of sand by the bag has become a roaring business. There is an unprecedented shortage of sand in the wake of a ban on its auction. The matter is being inordinately delayed by litigation. Meanwhile, summer, the season for construction, seems to be slipping away swiftly.
The sand bag, which was earlier used only for plugging breaches in canal bunds, has today found a place in the neighbourhood hardware and building material shop along with cement.
After being put into empty cement bags on the riverbed, sand is carried to the road on the flood bank.
In Ranadive Nagar, the bags have to come from the riverbed to the road through gaps between rows of houses. The situation is different in Tarakaramanagar downstream the Varadhi.
There are no dwellings between the river and the flood bank.
However, most of the men and children put their cots on the road and sleep there during summer. The “sand smugglers,” who have scant respect for these people, go about their business as if they do not exist.
The cost of an empty cement bag is Rs.2. But by the time it gets filled and reaches the road, its value would have multiplied manifold to Rs.50. Depending on the demand and distance to be transported, the value of one sand bag can increase up to Rs.150.
Keywords: Sand smuggling