The Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has unearthed a racket in the smuggling of bajri (riverbed sand), allegedly involving police officials who were taking bribes from trucks carrying sand brought from the Banas river in the Tonk district. A police constable carrying bribe money worth ₹1.4 lakh was arrested on Thursday night.
The Station House Officer (SHO) of the Peeplu Police Station, suspected to be involved in the racket and named as a co-accused in the case, is missing. Constable Kailash Jat reportedly told the ACB sleuths that large-scale corruption involved several police officials among whom the bribe money was distributed.
According to the ACB’s sources, trucks packed with sand passing through highways in the Tonk, Sawai Madhopur and Dholpur districts were stopped by policemen for checking and their drivers forced to pay a bribe. Illegal sand mining is reported to be rampant in these districts.
Riverbed sand, which is mixed with cement for construction, has not been legally available in the State since November 2017, when the Supreme Court imposed a ban on its mining. The non-availability of sand had an adverse impact on the construction of houses and stalled several government and private projects, besides leading to illegal mining.
Though the halt to construction activities rendered a large number of workers and labourers unemployed, the Supreme Court later came down heavily on the State government for giving licences for sand mining without environmental clearances, while staying as many as 82 such licences.
The complete ban on riverbed sand mining came following the failure of State government and miners to get environmental clearances on time. The apex court earlier this month also stayed the auction of sand mining blocks for which Letters of Intent were issued without getting clearance from the Environment Ministry.