SAMBALPURI (BARGARH): Sambalpuri has no similarity to Sambalpur city except the fact that while the Mahanadi river flows along the city, it is the Ong river, a tributary of the Mahanadi, which flows through this village bordering Odisha and Chhattisgarh under Jagdalpur police limits in the district. But the Ong river, which was once a bed of sand, has seen wild growths replacing the sandy bed reflecting the massive sand mining on the riverbed. Ironically, rampant illegal sand mining is being carried out by the sand mafia from Chhattisgarh 24X7 and the authorities on this side of the border are looking the other way resulting in huge loss to the State exchequer.
Located about 20 km from the sub-division of Padampur in the district, the Ong river flows about 3 km from Jagdalpur police station. And the foothills of Sukuli has turned into a safe haven for the sand mafia. Excavators and heavy commercial vehicles such as trucks are engaged in illegal sand mining which is being transported to Chhattisgarh. They are gradually extending the area of sand mining and proper motorable road has been laid on the riverbed to ensure smooth movement of the heavy vehicles carrying sand. Even the 4 km forest stretch has been cleared for construction of road and sand is being transported to Saraipali in Chhattisgarh.
Although it was stopped for sometime after locals protested, things were back to square one after a few days. While some villagers allege that the local administration is hand in glove with the sand mafia, some others claim that the local authorities refuse to visit the spot out of fear for their lives. The illegal sand mining is being carried out in Chardapali, Sambalpuri, Luhurakot and Sareikela and off late some local hoodlums have joined hands to take part in the loot.
Allegations of sand mafia misbehaving with womenfolk of villages going to river have also been levelled resulting in escalation of tension in the area. Locals, who dared to raise their voice against illegal sand mining, are threatened with dire consequences.
Contacted, Padampur SDPO Laxminarayan Panda said it is a revenue issue and the revenue authorities can provide security cover to prevent the illegal sand mining. However, Padampur MLA Pradeep Purohit said the issue has been raised in the Assembly and more recently on March 17 at the Constituency Development meeting, which was attended by the Additional District Magistrate and Sub- Collector. He alleged that sand smuggling in being done by the mafia in connivance with the tehsildar and the police. Purohit said when the poor in Padampur are having to pay through their nose to purchase sand to build houses under various housing schemes, the district administration is refusing to act. He threatened to launch a stir if the local officials do not put a stop to the illegal sand mining.
Wild growths replace sandy bed
● The Ong river, which was once a bed of sand, has seen wild growths replacing the sandy bed reflecting the massive sand mining on the riverbed
● Located about 20 km from the sub-division of Padampur in the district, the Ong river flows about 3 km from Jagdalpur police station
● The foothills of Sukuli has turned into a safe haven for the sand mafia
● The illegal sand mining is being carried out in Chardapali, Sambalpuri, Luhurakot and Sareikela