Coimbatore district that shares borders with Kerala was the hub of sand and rice smuggling into the neighbouring State till recently.
But owing to increased vigil and information sharing by the police, smugglers are now finding it difficult to ply their business even through lesser known village roads.
The enhanced monitoring of these activities has led to detection of more cases, seizure of more vehicles and detention of accused. The ban imposed on quarrying sand along water bodies in Kerala and the growing construction sector in the State increased demand for sand. This led to persons in Tiruchi and Karur turning out to be brokers arranging sand loads.
In fact, these brokers hired lorries from other districts and even Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to smuggle sand into Kerala after topping up the load with other commodities to outwit the law enforcing authorities.
While Tirupur has only one route to Kerala, Coimbatore had eight well known roads going into the State.
Police have also stepped up surveillance at Walayar and Vezhanthavazham on the road from Coimbatore to Palakkad, Semmanampathy, Meenakshipuram, Ramayampalayam, Nadupuni in Pollachi and at Vadakkad and Veerappagoundanur in Kinathukkadavu area besides Anaikatti.
The police top brass in Western Tamil Nadu region take up periodical inspections to check the alertness of the check-posts on the roads leading to Kerala besides deploying police personnel in plainclothes to gather information on smuggling through other smaller routes.
On major routes, the presence of check-posts by the Forest, Police, Commercial Tax and Transport Departments had also helped in checking the practice to a great extent.
Compared to 2010, the year 2011 witnessed more number of cases being detected while the trend continued in the first three months of the current year.
The increase in detection and control of one of the most sought after materials from Coimbatore region to Kerala was no indication that the offence was on the rise, but a testimony to the fact that more cases were getting registered, a police officer pointed out.
Stepped up vigil along the inter-State roads and border areas has resulted in detection of more cases, writes