Rampant illegal sand mining being taken up in large scale, that too in broad day light, on Sandhanavarthini River poses grave threat to bridges constructed across culverts and prime roads, cultivable lands in rain fed areas and irrigation wells.

Neither the government officials nor elected representatives of local bodies pay attention to it. Even local people too do not object to these illegal activities without realising that such activities will ultimately affect their livelihood.

Earlier, sand lifters used to lift sand from the interior parts of the river either at dusk or at night discreetly using bullock carts or mini goods carrier vehicles. With not even a reprimand either from revenue or from mining officials, sand lifters do all the processing work including collection, stone removal and sieving on the river bed and dispatch the finished product leisurely in lorries to the respective destination.

Even elected representatives do not care to realise its adverse impact and take steps to prevent this hazard.

The abundant lenience of the officials and representatives encourages sand lifters to start lifting sand even near the main road in Kulathur without fear. All rules on sand lifting near the bridge area in order to keep the pillars and abutment safe are flouted as they lift large quantity of sand near the bridge, said environmentalists. “This illegal exercise will cause a grave threat to the river environment and severe damage to the bridge.”

Now, the river bed near Kulauthur is full of large pits. The worst affected are farmers.

Flow of rainwater in the river recharges irrigation wells that irrigate at least one rain fed crop per year. Sand mining wipes out their last hope also.

Top soil is a non-renewable resource. The river bed sans sand does not retain water and allow it to flow towards dam without recharging ground water table and irrigation wells. In the long run, it will cripple the economic development of rural areas parlaying even rain-fed agriculture activities, they stated.

Originated from Sirumalai, Sandhanavarthini River passes through Sanarpatti, Eriyode, Kulathur and several villages and hamlets and finally confluence with Kudaganar River.