NGO asks ACB to probe sand mining

UDUPI: Raising questions over the process of identification of sand bars in CRZ area of the river Swarna, the National Environment Care Federation asked the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe the issue on Wednesday.

In his complaint, Shashidhar Shetty, general secretary, NECF, alleged: “Few officials of government departments concerned in Udupi, led by Kundapura sub division assistant commissioner, Mr Bhoobalan T, have committed fraud through false identification of sand bars in the river Swarna in Udupi district to facilitate businessmen to mine sand in the garb of sand bar removal."

Mr Shetty said as per rules only sand bars which are obstructing fishing boats and vessels in rivers could be removed. "It is not sand mining as understood by the sand mafia and a few officials," he said, adding "There are no sand bars in rivers flowing in Udupi district that could obstruct navigation and fishing. There cannot be formation of sand bars in the CRZ rivers of Udupi district in the coming decade too due to the magnitude of illegal mining already taken place in the last few years in the district."

Mr Shetty alleged that even when there were no sand bars in the river, false complaints were filed stating that sand bars are obstructing fishing boats. “There are no genuine complaints from local communities regarding sand bars obstructing navigation and fishing in any of the rivers flowing in Udupi district. It could be seen from the list of 47 complaints received by Udupi district administration. Sand miners have obtained fake / false letters from a few villagers in this regard to get permit to sand mining in the garb of sand bar removal,” he alleged. 

He also pointed out another interesting fact: “The district administration has received 47 complaints from 'fishermen involved in fishing in the river,' about sand bar obstructing their activity. But the boat registration certificates enclosed with the complaints reveal that all these boats are fiberglass boats with base operations at sea and these boats are not at all used in rivers. It is clear that all 47 complaints are to misguide the administration!" he alleged. 

Mr Shetty said "It is shocking that many 'complaints,' of obstruction caused by sand bars were by the sand removal permit holders of previous years themselves." Alleging that the entire process of identifying sand bar was a fraud, Mr Shetty urged ACB to stop the identification process. 


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