‘Illegal sand mining will be stopped in a fortnight’

Illegal sand mining will be “closed down” in the next 15 days, said District Collector S.B. Deepak Kumar.

On Wednesday, the collector went on an inspection to the various parts where illegal sand mining is rampant.

The visit included Soriyankuppam in the Bahour area, where sand is taken from the Pennaiyar River and Manalipet and Thethampakkam in the Villianur area.

“After the National Green Tribunal order, we have decided to strictly enforce the ban on illegal sand mining. In certain villages, each house has two or three bullock carts that are engaged in sand mining. Now, after the judgment, they do not have much recourse, so we expect to shut down the entire operation in 15 days,” he said.

For the past few days, the revenue department officials have begun a crackdown on illegal sand mining.

There are hundreds of vehicles across Puducherry that are employed in illegal sand mining.

Early in the morning, it is easy to see at least 60 or 70 vehicles carrying sand to various parts.

When the revenue officials stop them, many of them just abandon their vehicles and flee, sources said.

On the Soriyankuppam side, most of the bullock cart drivers directly sell their sand to buyers, but in the Villianur area, the operation is a bit more organised and the sand is dumped in certain areas and collected in trucks and transported.

“Another issue is that the land surrounding the river is government porambokku land, but there are certain areas where the carts have to pass through private lands and the private land owners ask these bullock cart owners for payments. The revenue department will also be taking action against these people,” Mr. Kumar said.

According to a revenue official, in the Villianur region alone in the past one month they had seized 10 lorries and several bullock carts.

Earlier, the sand smugglers were only booked under the Minor Minerals Act, but now the cases would be passed on to the police.