KOCHI: Cashing in on the large quantity of sand deposited on river banks after the flood, the sand mafia has started to smuggle it for selling in the black market at exorbitant rates. Police officers in Ernakulam Rural said the mafia has already shifted a considerable stock to private properties.
Officers of state intelligence wing also said the large tracts of area along the Periyar and Chalakudy rivers have huge deposits of sand, which are currently lying unattended.
Ernakulam Rural police chief Rahul R Nair said the department has received complaints about the activities of the sand mafia, which have reared its ugly head after the great deluge.
“We have started to take necessary steps to deal with the issue. Special squads have been formed to monitor areas along the rivers. SHOs have been directed to take action against those who resort to sand smuggling,” he said.
“We have specific inputs that the mafia, with the support of some locals, are shifting the sand accumulated at various places along the rivers. As the government machinery is focusing on relief and rehabilitation, the mafia is easily getting away,” said an intelligence officer.
Meanwhile, the state government is planning to chalk out a plan to utilise the sand deposited at various places after the recent floods for government construction works.
Public Works Department Minister G Sudhakaran had said the government will consider utilising the sand exclusively for construction works to be undertaken by the state government as part of the Kerala rebuilding mission.
“Once the CM returns from the US, the government will finalise the plan. We can consider making use of the sand for government-funded construction works,” he said.
All Kerala Government Contractors Association secretary Pradeep P said the government should immediately take a call on utilisation of sand deposited along the river banks. “The sand needs to be used for construction work. Already, mafia groups have started to mine it,” he said.