Environmentalists fear that indiscriminate digging all along Nagavali and Vamsadhara riverbeds might result in rivers changing their course, inundating many areas.

Despite warnings and inspection of officials concerned, sand manfia continues to excavate sand from Vamsadhara and Nagavali rivers. Flouting all rules and regulations, poclain excavators are being used in riverbeds and sand is exported through tractors and lorries.

Environmentalists have expressed concern over the illegal sand mining that has been going on in the district. They fear that indiscriminate digging all along Nagavali and Vamsadhara riverbeds might result in rivers changing their course, inundating many areas. Interestingly, large-scale illegal transport of sand is said to be taking place from Santinagar area of Srikakulam town where Mines and Geology department office is located. The department officials have made it clear that it is not possible for them to control illegal mining completely unless Revenue and Irrigation departments take initiative to control the menace.

As per the norms, seigniorage, will not be collected if sand is transported in bullock carts. However, the sand mafia is allegedly exploiting the norms by transporting sand from Nagavali river in bullock carts till certain place from where they transport it by tractors and lorries. The contractors have to pay Rs.40 for each tractor which carries three cubic meters of sand. But, many of them evade seignorage and sell it in the market for Rs.800-1000 depending upon the distance.

As many as 20 loads of sand is being transported by each tractor, indicating that it would run into crores within no time. Apart from Srikakulam, illegal mining is taking place in Narasannapeta and Salihundam. The mafia is reportedly objecting to auction of sand ramps in new places so that it can export sand without paying anything to the government.

Srikakulam district Collector G.Venkatram Reddy on Saturday ordered the officials to book criminal cases immediately in police stations if sand mining was taking place illegally. “Sand mining should be done only in five identified places. We will seize all the machinery and vehicles if illegal mining is done anywhere. Village secretary or revenue official can approach police officials to book criminal cases,” he added.