Biju Govind

Kozhikode: A major programme of the four-day Tathva, organised by the National Institute of Technology, Calicut, on its campus beginning October 23, will be a contest seeking participants to provide a technology-based project plan to avoid fraudulent practices in sand-mining in the district.

The organisers have introduced the competition after the Revenue and Police department wanted the future engineers to provide a clearly defined solution to identify vehicles involved in unauthorised sand-mining and track them. The proposal should also come up with a permanent solution to make issuance of passes a fool-proof identification system.

Competitors have also been asked to support their plans with gadgets such as tracking mechanism and fool-proof passes. The judging criteria will be feasibility of the plan and its cost effectiveness.

Like elsewhere in the State, illegal sand-mining from rivers is rampant in the district also. There are designated authorised ‘kadavus’ (water frontages) from where sand of a particular quantity can be legally mined and marketed. These kadavus are controlled by grama panchayats. Since there are various kadavus where sand-mining is not permitted, which include various private kadavus, one of the major means of controlling sand-mining is by regulating the transportation, an official says.

As of now sand-loading is permitted at the kadavus from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Passes are issued for vehicles loading sand from the kadavu. The passes issued by the kadavus have various authentication marks and seals including those from the Collectorate and the Geology Department. The issuing authority is the panchayat.

It is issued at the kadavu with an entry made regarding the date and time of starting of the journey by the loaded vehicle. The vehicle number is also entered. Its destination and the purchaser are also noted.

Despite regulations in sand-trafficking, there remain fraudulent practices. One of them is using the same pass for multiple delivery of loads. Using a valid pass for making one legal load from a legal kadavu and then reusing the same pass for transporting illegally mined sand from unauthorised kadavus.

There are places along the road where illegally mined sand is kept ready for transportation like this. Suppose a vehicle starts its journey at 9 a.m. from a kadavu and it is supposed to reach its destination at 10 a.m. When the revenue or police authorities apprehend it at noon, with an illegally loaded second trip of sand, they take the plea that the vehicle had broken down and hence the delay. This is very difficult to verify and people are only too happy to produce a false vehicle repair bill to ‘prove’ it, an official says. The scope for such day-light transportation makes night-time sand-mining profitable. The illegally mined sand is kept at safe places at night and it taken during day using these ‘passes’ which render the authorities helpless, he says.