BENGALURU: Attacks on government officials by illegal sand miners and transporters have become frequent over the fast few years. In the latest incident, Deputy Commissioner of Udupi Priyanka Mary Francis and Assistant Commissioner Shilpa Nag had a narrow escape on Sunday night. This comes close on the heels of a similar incident in Kalaburagi a week ago.
Retired officers and experts feel that those involved in illegal sand mining dared to take such risks, like assaulting government officials, because of political backing and good profits involved in the trade. A few, however, blame the state government for the sand mining menace, saying the state has created an “artificial scarcity” of sand.
According to police sources, illegal sand mining and smuggling take place after nightfall. “People try to extract sand silently, but local police and revenue officials are the first to notice.
It is after they turn a blind eye for a considerable period of time that illegal mining attracts attention of Deputy Commissioner and others,” a police officer said on the condition of anonymity.
The police officer added that most trucks carrying sand mined illegally get past check-posts by paying bribes. “If a truck is caught for the first time, the vehicle will be let off if `30,000-40,000 is paid to the officer. If caught for the second time, the bribe will be higher,” he added.
Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner Ujwal Kumar Ghosh ordered an inquiry on March 31 into a possible nexus between sand mafia and officials. Several incidents reported in the past too had indicated at such a nexus.
Retired IAS officer Ramegowda blamed the ‘artificial scarcity’ of sand created by the state for the growth of the sand mafia.
“There is a continuous demand for sand in Karnataka and other states. Since, there is not enough supply, such illegal methods are being employed,” he said. The state should finalise quarries allotted to manufacture M-sand, so that the scarcity could be addressed.
Procedural delays of the state in granting sand mining rights have also added to the delay, he said.