In a major operation 126 routes to neighbouring States sealed

Close on the heels of the drive against illegal granite quarrying, the Tamil Nadu Police on Friday launched a major crackdown on inter-State smuggling of sand.

As many as 126 routes leading to neighbouring States of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were sealed and armed police personnel deployed at check-posts intercepted sand-laden lorries.

Within 24 hours, 73 vehicles were seized for illegally transporting sand and 71 persons were taken into custody, police sources said.

Acting on the instructions of the Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) S. George, special teams formed across the State checked sand-laden lorries in Kanyakumari, Theni, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Tiruvallur, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts.

“It was found that there were two types of offences. One, transportation of illegally mined sand and the other was smuggling of sand permitted for local use to other State. We have booked cases under the provisions of Section 38 (b) of the Tamil Nadu Mines and Minerals Act,” Mr. George told The Hindu’.

Novel method of pilferage

During the ongoing drive, investigators detected a novel method of sand smuggling to Kerala from Puducherry. Sand-laden lorries moving into Puducherry were booked in the name of a private firm and then transported to Kerala.

“This was probably to circumvent the rules in Tamil Nadu. How can sand be sourced from Puducherry where there is no river … a team will go to the Union Territory to investigate this offence,” a senior police official said.

He said police check-posts were set-up even in small country roads that had access to the State borders.

Interrogation of the accused persons revealed that they had indulged in the offence for several years now. “This seems to be a well-organised network of agents spread across the southern states.

The documents submitted by the lorry drivers were verified with the help of officials attached to the Public Works Department and Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd.”

When contacted Mr. George said the State police had organised an intensive drive against sand mining. In the last one year ending August, 3,512 cases were registered and 3,925 accused persons were arrested. 2,400 tractors, 888 lorries, 181 tippers and 101 earthmovers were seized by the police.