JEYPORE: Rampant extraction of sand and its smuggling to Andhra Pradesh from the riverbed of Kolab near Ghatbagara has apparently taken a toll on the ecological balance here. Blame it on the alleged nexus between some officials and a local contractor here, the extraction of sand beyond permissible limits continues unabated in the region.
Activists have alleged that excessive extraction of sand has led to diversion of the path of the river towards human settlements along its bank as natural replenishment of sand has failed. A group of locals and activists have blamed a contractor for the depletion of sand in the region. “The contractor has been extracting huge quantities of sand using three top-rated excavators. He is transporting minimum 100 trucks loaded with sand every day from the river. This has led to ecological degradation of the areas. Sands are being transported to the neighbouring towns in Andhra Pradesh under the nose of the officials,” locals claimed.
Sources said the contractor was granted licence for dredging small quantities of sand from Kolab riverbed for local use for five years. Ironically, the licence was issued without consulting the Ecology or Forest and Environment departments.Regular extraction of sand has led to landslides and erosion of the embankments near Ghatbagara, Dangarpunsi and Khotalapadar areas, activists claimed.
“Sand extraction should be stopped immediately to check the damage being done to the environment here,” said Sagar Samontra, a social activist of Kundra block.As the area is not well-connected by roads or Railways, the senior officials of the district hardly get to notice how the illegal mining is stripping Kolab river of its foundation, sources said.
The green crusaders in Jeypore region have been demanding that the district administration should launch an inquiry into the matter. But, nothing concrete has happened so far in this regard. Attempts to contact the Tehsildar at Jeypore proved futile.Meanwhile, sources said one truck of sand fetches at least `25,000 in Andhra Pradesh. However, in this region, sand is as cheap as `3,000 per truck. Thus, sand mafias are concentrating on this part of the State to make a fast buck.