With the Andhra Pradesh High Court staying the quarry and auction of sand reaches across the State from April 1, the sand mafia in East Godavari district has stepped up its activity.
With the Godavari flowing by, East Godavari district is the hub of sand mining activity. The activity fetches the government a seigniorage of Rs.30 crore annually.
It is widely believed that contractors form a syndicate at the time of auction of the 27 sand reaches by quoting lowest rates. The sand that is transported is sold in the open market at a higher price in line with the demand.
The mafia is working overtime for the last three days quarrying sand from different reaches along the Godavari in the district.
The activity is going unchecked as there has been no action after the crackdown by Vigilance officials in December last.
The illegal activity, allegedly being carried out with the support of a few political leaders, is leading to a huge loss of revenue.
The mafia is active in sand reaches in Ravulapalem, Jonnada, Kapileswarapuram, Atreyapuram, and P. Gannavaram mandals, where sand is transported by trucks at midnight to places such as Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad, where it fetches a good price. The price of a lorryload of sand has shot up from Rs. 2,000 to Rs.3,500. As per a rough estimate, the volume of business is in the region of Rs.200 crore.
“After the High Court order, owners have stopped supplying sand locally and are creating artificial demand,” K. Rambabu, a contractor, has said. When reached for comment, an official of the Department of Mines, said: “As auctions have been stopped, there are no chances of illegal mining activity in the district.”
‘The mafia is working overtime for the last three days quarrying sand from different reaches'