Staff Correspondent

Madikeri: Kodagu lorry owners, sand contractors and construction work contractors, on Wednesday, threatened to organise a round-the-clock indefinite strike in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here, if licences for sand mining in the district for 2006-07 and 2007-08 were not renewed within seven days.

Speaking to presspersons here, a representative, Padmananda, said that apart from renewing the tenders awarded earlier, the district administration should call for fresh tenders for sand extraction in the district for 2008-09. (Tenders once awarded would be valid for a period of four years but licences are renewed every year.)

The last tender was awarded on June 1, 2004. Other members, B. Harish, B.T. Ramesh, T.G. Satish and Thimmaiah, said that in the absence of renewal of licence and inviting fresh tenders, the police and the RTO were imposing fines on sand transporters terming it as illegal.

The Government should be blamed for making way for illegal sand transportation. Such incidents would not have occurred if licences had been renewed and fresh tenders invited for 2008-09 to extract sand from river beds in the district, Mr. Harish said. The crackdown on sand mining and transportation had resulted in the stoppage of construction work in the district, resulting in the loss of work for labour. Lorry owners too were hit hard, he said.

Mr. Satish said that it had resulted in loss to the State Exchequer. Sand mining could be taken up in Kodagu only for a period of four months in a year. Mr. Satish said that certain persons were extracting sand in some places of the district despite the non-renewal of licence. Lorry owners and sand transporters would cooperate with the authorities to curb such illegal mining, he said.