JAGATSINGHPUR: Illegal sand mining has taken a toll on the embankments of Mahanadi river in the district. Even as sand mafia have been operating with impunity allegedly in connivance with revenue officials, erosion of the river bed now poses a grave threat to several villages in Tirtol and Kujang blocks and those along the Taladanda canal.
Heavy machinery is used to lift sand from the river bed in the two blocks and several trucks and tractors used to transport them to Paradip where they are used in construction industries. Madhusudan Behera, a resident of Arada village said the embankment of the river near Jhulababa math in Tirtol panchayat collapsed recently as a result of which several fruit-bearing trees were washed away. Similar is the situation in Tentulipada, Manijanga, Jadatira, Pipalmadhab, Bodhei and other panchayats of Tirtol.
The Taladanda canal, which has caved in three to four times since its construction, is on the verge of complete collapse. Sources said the 400 metre long and 250 metre wide embankment of Mahanadi river, just 700 metre from the canal, has caved in.
Use of machines have been causing a change in the natural topography of the region. Deep digging and lifting of sand has led to formation of ponds giving rise to the threat of the river changing its course during floods. This can prove disastrous for villages in the two blocks.
Kujang tehsildar SP Priyadarshneee said the administration, in its bid to contain illegal sand mining, seized two sand-laden trucks and as many tractors on Friday. The sand, lifted from Taladanda river bed, was being transported to Paradip. A fine of Rs 26,000 was imposed on the owners of the vehicles, she said.