Even as the government has, yet again, said that a comprehensive sand policy will be out soon, the collapsed bridge on Garudachala river connecting Koratagere taluk of Tumkur district with Doddaballapur taluk of Bangalore Rural district stands testimony to the damage done by illegal sand extraction.
This important bridge collapsed in 2008 due to rampant sand extraction around it and has remained unrepaired till date. It has virtually divided the Byragondlu village into two parts causing inconvenience to people, forcing them to travel an additional 10 km.
The bridge collapsed in 2008 due to illegal sand extraction near the bridge across the Garudachala river. The heavy flow of water into the river, in the absence of sand bed, resulted in the erosion of base soil and weakening of the bridge, finally leading to its collapse.
Farmer Siddalingachar of Machchenahalli of Doddaballapur taluk said: “If we have to go to Doddaballapur, we have to travel 10 km more as the bridge has collapsed.”
Gowramma of Byragondlu said that she was finding it difficult to send her children to school during the rainy season as the whole area near the bridge is filled with water. As a farmer of Byragondlu, Nagarajappa, points out, rampant sand extraction has not only resulted in the bridge collapsing but also has caused extensive damage to agriculture in the region. The groundwater table has fallen resulting in the drying up of coconut and acrecanut trees in the vicinity of 10 km from the river.
Environmentalist C. Yathiraju alleged a nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and the sand mafia. He said that there was a “lack of political will” on the part of the governments to stop illegal sand extraction. He demanded that the government bring in a sand policy and implement it strictly. He said that highly regulated sand extraction is needed to meet the demand.
Executive Engineer of Public Works Department P. Halchikkannna claimed that the bridge collapsed due to many factors and sand extraction was one of them. He said that the construction of the bridge has been handed over to Karnataka Road Development Corporation by the State government.