In contrast to the hue and cry over availability of sand in Andhra Pradesh, residents in the state’s Srikakulam area are seeing rampant illegal sand mining right under the nose of the district authorities.
Shantinagar colony, with more than 400 households and several apartments, is facing threat of floods due to excessive sand mining that has been allegedly happening for over two months. According to residents, sand excavation is being done near human habitation from the riverbed of the Nagavali river which passes through the town, and the sand is being transported in bullock carts.
Sand mining amidst human settlements is illegal. According to residents, the mining will not only affect their houses but also damage the water tanks that serve drinking water to the city.
Speaking to TNM, Shantinagar Colony Welfare Association Secretary PVL Rajashekar, said that the officials have failed to intervene to prevent sand mining.
He said, "We have complained to the District Collector, municipal authorities and Irrigation department officials seeking prohibition of sand excavation. They use hundreds of bullock carts and passenger autos."
According to him, the persons carry the sand in gunny bags and transport it in autos.
He further adds, "Most of these excavations are carried out during the night, whenever we ask for written permission, they will not show anything. They will stop for one or two days and start again."
When TNM contacted Assistant Director Mines Srikakulam, he said that he has written a letter to the Tehsildar and local DySP to increase vigilance.
Another resident CR Paul, an advocate, said, "If this sand excavation continues, for sure this area would face the threat of floods and other calamities. The officials are not bothered to save our locality or the government buildings of Water Resources department. The wells that distribute drinking water to the city may also dry up."
As per the new sand policy that came into force earlier this year, it allows excavation of sand for domestic needs, but on the condition of manual excavation with due permission from the Tehsildar concerned, of selected sand reaches.
According to Srikakulam District Collector, there are as many As18 permitted and recognised sand reaches in the district. Collector J Nivas, when asked about complaints of Shantinagar residents said, "The matter has come to our notice, we have received a representation and given directions to the Tehisildar concerned to take necessary action."
The Collector further added, "Revenue officials will carry out surprise raids in the area during the night, for now there is no sand mining activity happening."