Mineral Sand Mafia's Bid to Thwart Govt Decision
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In an apparent move to tide over the hurdle following the exclusion of Intelligence agencies from the purview of the RTI Act, the sand mafia which is smuggling out precious mineral sand from Kollam district to Tamil Nadu has come out against the government decision, by disguising themselves as environmental activists. Though the State Government has excluded the Intelligence agencies and organisations under the Home Department from the purview of the RTI Act, some people disguising themselves as environmentalists have moved the government seeking sensitive information from Intelligence agencies.
It was on May 17 last year that the General Administration (coordination) Department issued a notification exempting the eight Intelligence agencies under the Home Department from the purview of the RTI Act.
As per this notification, it had been specified that provisions of the Act should not apply to the sensitive, confidential and secret papers received from the Intelligence organisations and agencies. The agencies / organisations which have been exempted from the purview of the Act include Special Branch CID/ Crime Branch CID, District Special Branches of Districts, Cities, District and State Crime Records Bureaus, Police communication units, Confidential Branch in Police Headquarters, Kerala and Confidential sections in all Police offices in the state, State regional Forensic Laboratories and State and District Fingerprint Bureaus.
However, the Home Department had found that some of the officials had made available certain information without strictly following the guidelines. Recently, it had come to notice that some of the requests filed under the RTI Act related to seeking information on raids conducted against the sand mafia, the officials entrusted with the operation etc. When the officials concerned rejected the requests citing that the provisions of the Act did not apply to the above said agencies, the applicants have moved the appellate authority seeking the same information.
What is interesting is that those who have applied for information were presenting themselves as environmental activists who are ‘concerned’ about the illegal mining and smuggling out of the mineral sand from western coast of Kollam and Alappuzha districts.
Officials in the Home Department have been shocked to know that some of these applicants belonged to Tamil Nadu and had even signed the application in Tamil.
“Their real intention is to leak out the information on the drive against illegal mining and thwart the efforts aiming at curbing the smuggling out of mineral sand to Tamil Nadu,’’ the officials, on condition of anonymity, told ‘Express’. It may be noted that efforts are going on within the state by vested interests to stall the functioning of the state-owned KMML raking up several issues including gas leak from the plant, and thereby aiming to benefit a private player in the state.