Nine persons held, seven boats seized near Thiruvalla
PATHANAMTHITTA: In a major crackdown on sand mafia at Pulikeezhu, near Thiruvalla, a raid party headed by Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) P.K. Jayasree seized seven sand-laden country boats, three of them fitted with outboard engines, from River Pampa in the early hours of Saturday.
Nine persons were arrested. The raid was followed a tip-off received by the RDO on Friday evening. There were reports of country boats fitted with outboard engines smuggling sand in large quantities from the Pampa and Manimala rivers to Alappuzha under the cover of night.
There were also allegations that the illegal mining and smuggling of sand were being carried out with the connivance of a section of the official machinery.
The sand mafia was allegedly getting the patronage of local leaders attached to both the ruling and opposition parties in the district as well as certain local self-government authorities.
The raids were often foiled with the news leaking out to the habitual offenders who allegedly got ‘informers’ at various government offices.
The RDO along with a police party led by Sub-Inspector K. Salim reached Pulikeezhu on Friday night. The police laid a trap for the sand-smugglers under the bridge across River Pampa at Pulikeezhu.
The sand-laden boats were forcibly blocked by the police when it neared the bridge around 1 a.m.
A few policemen were injured when a country boat tried to break the police cordon. There was a minor tussle between the police and the sand smugglers when the latter made a futile attempt to evade arrest and forcibly release the boats.
The RDO monitored the police action from the river banks and nine boat crew were arrested.
Those arrested were Maniyan, 50, Uthaman, 49, Sasi, 49, Satheesan, 41, Philipose, 51, Uthaman, 52, Savarial, 64, Thomas Thomas, 48 and Mangalan, 46. The seized boats were anchored at a jetty at Pulikeezhu, later, Mr. Salim said.
The police had registered a case invoking Sections 20 and 21 of the River Bank Protection Act, 2001, he said.
The RDO said more raids would be organised in the coming days in an effort to stop anti-river activities reportedly
under way in different parts of the taluk. The RDO submitted a report on the raid to the District Collector.