BARIPADA: Balasore Collector Ramesh Chandra Rout has asked the Sub-Collector and revenue officials to stop illegal sand lifting from Subarnarekha river. Taking note of rampant illegal mining of sand from the river, the district administration has directed its revenue officials to check the practice and come up with a restoration plan for damages inflicted on the river.
Illegal lifting of sand from Subarnarekha river bed near Jaleswar town has emerged as a major cause of concern for the locals. Sand mafia from West Bengal are engaged in lifting sand from the river bed even as the local administration remains a mute spectator, sources said. Acting on the order, a team of revenue officials led by Sub-Collector Nilu Mohapatra raided the area and seized five sand-laden dumpers and excavator from Mohammad Nagarpatna in Jaleswar.
The Collector said despite repeated warnings and ban on sand lifting, the practice continues in the area. Joint raids by police and revenue officials will continue on the river beds and legal action taken against the sand mafia, he added.
Locals said the tributaries and distributaries of the river need to be renovated. If Subarnarekha dries up, the region will have to face ingress of sea water which will affect agriculture and human habitations. They also accused the State and Central governments of being callous towards executing the ambitious river renovation project.
Earlier, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed both Odisha and West Bengal governments to come up with a joint restoration plan for damages inflicted on the river. The NGT order had asked the chief secretaries of the two states to form a committee to prepare the plan.Meanwhile, members of Jaleswar unit of Utkal Sammilani and Mahanandi Bachao Andolan demanded immediate implementation of ‘Subarnarekha Sanskar’ project to protect the river from illegal sand mining.
Landless stage demo
Landless villagers of Jaleswar in Balasore district on Monday took out a rally and staged demonstration in front of tehsil office demanding residential plots. More than 500 tribals and Dalits led by local leader Sudarshan Das took part in the rally. He alleged that the district administration and the State Government have failed to provide land to tribals and Dalits despite provisions under Land Settlement Act, 2008. While the Government provides land bank to industries voluntarily, needy tribals and Dalits are being deprived of basic facilities in the State, he added. They also submitted a memorandum to the Tehsildar of Jaleswar addressed to the Chief Minister over their demands.