Worried over losing precious revenue to the sand mafia, the state government has issued orders to the district collectors to constitute committees, at various levels, for curbing illegal sand mining in the state.
Following the government orders eight districts--East Godavari, Visakapatnam, Guntur, Srikakulam, West Godavari, Krishna, Khammam and Warangal have already constituted the committees, which has officials of police, revenue, mining and transport department each in the mandal, division and district levels.
Earlier, the mining department had submitted a report in which it suggested the setting up of such committees. It attributed the lack of adequate staff in the mining department to the failure in curbing the illegal sand lifting.
One senior officer in the mining department said the existing staff is less than half than that of the total sanctioned strength of 2,000. The department has sought immediate appointment to the vacant posts.
“If we have to effectively deal with the problem, we need atleast 10,000 staff,” one official said. He said that they have sent a proposal to the government for appointing additional staff and it is under consideration. The shortage is so acute that there is only one vigilance officer for each district.
He said that they need atleast four or five of them to control the illegal sand lifting. One senior officer in the department said that the illegal sand mining has come down in the districts where the the committees have been constituted.
“The committees in Srikakulam district have collected Rs 25 lakhs in a few days by fining the vehicles which were transporting sand illegally. Cases were also booked against the vehicles owners,” he said.
On the other hand, the legal new sand reaches, which have got environmental clearance, have started operations.
“Twenty five of the 36 new sand reaches have started operations and 28 of the 47 old sand reaches have got clearance and will start operations shortly,” an official said.
Meanwhile, the state government had constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) committee to decide a new sand policy on Saturday.
The mining department had proposed to the government to introduce lottery system in allotting sand reaches to individuals but this proposal was opposed.