KARNATAKA

Illegal mining of sand rampant in two taluks

Staff Correspondent

HASSAN: Despite several warnings from the district administration against illegal mining in the Hemavathi belt, mining and transportation of sand by contractors is rampant in Hassan and Holenarsipur taluks. In view of this, the Assistant Commissioner and Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Hassan, N. Manjula, has directed the tahsildars of Hassan and Holenarsipur taluks to seize the equipment used for sand mining.

According to Ms. Manjula, the Department of Mines and Geology, in a letter, informed her office about illegal sand mining in the Hemavathi river belt on November 17, 2004.

Prohibitory orders were imposed at that time on the illegal activity in Hassan and Holenarsipur taluks.

Sand mining was under control for a short period.

Meeting

A meeting of senior officials of the departments of Mines and Geology, Transportation and Revenue and police officials of the two taluks was held on April 12 to develop a strategy to control the illegal mining.

The tahsildars of the two taluks have been instructed to clamp prohibitory orders against sand mining in the river belt and asked to confiscate the equipment used for mining, she said. Prohibitory orders have been clamped in the two taluks from April 15.

The Minister of Public Works and Energy, H.D. Revanna, was forced to cancel a programme to lay the foundation stone for the Swacha Grama Yojana in Moodalahippe village in January after the road was blocked by sand-laden lorries, the district administration was forced to take note of the problem.

The Minister directed the Assistant Commissioner to initiate action against the illegal mining and transportation of sand and she clamped prohibitory orders. However with the withdrawal of orders contractors resumed mining. Thamme Gowda, Senior Geologist in the Department of Mines and Geology, told The Hindu that sand mining is rampant in Sriramadevarakatte, Kattebelaguli, Hanumanahalli, Paduvalahippe, and Maragodanahalli in Holenarsipur taluk. He said that the department has given a lease to mine sand only in Mukundur in Hassan taluk.

The sources said that contractors are mining and transporting more than 200 loads of sand illegally every day.

The activity was under control when prohibitory orders were in force. It resumed when the ban orders were lifted during gram panchayat elections. So far, Rs. 2 lakh has been collected as penalty during the joint operation conducted by the Transport, Police, Revenue and Mines and Geology departments.

Sources in the Transport Department said that many sand-laden vehicles have been seized and a fine has been levied.

The police also seized and destroyed mechanised boats used for the purpose. The departments will resume their joint operation from Monday, the sources said.

Sources in the Department of Mines and Geology said that there is a great demand for sand from the Hemavathi belt as it is of superior quality.

The sand is used for manufacturing sand paper and glass.

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