JAGATSINGHPUR: Hundreds of people including women gheraoed Raghunathpur tehsil office on Monday protesting district administration’s award of sand mining contracts to an outsider.Accusing the administration of keeping them in dark, the agitators under the banner of Jagannath Workers’ Cooperative Society claimed that they were excluded from the tender process of Jaipur sand quarry.
“Many locals had bid for auction of the quarries but the tender box was opened in our absence. Though we are staging a dharna in front of the tehsil office for last four days, the officials concerned are expressing their helplessness over the matter. We want the administration to allow all stakeholders to participate in the process in a fair manner,” said the society’s secretary Yudhistir Sethy.
Under Raghunathpur tehsil, there are three sand quarries at Tarapur, Jaipur and Nuapada. The auction of Tarapur quarry was stopped after the contractor, who was awarded lease of the sand ghat for five years, went beyond the prescribed depth, thereby posing threat to the embankment. The revenue department auctioned the quarries at Nuapada and Jaipur on December 14 last year. The contractor who bagged the mining rights of Jaipur quarry is an outsider and hence, there is resentment among the locals, sources said.
The agitators said the quarries were awarded to an outsider at a higher rate by ignoring the local bidders. The move has snatched livelihood of hundreds of people associated with the sand mining trade for the last 25 years, they alleged.
Sub-Collector Dharemendra Mallick rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the workers. However, the agitators threatened to intensify their protest if the auction of Jaipur sand quarry is not cancelled.
Raghunathpur tehsildar Rupalika Das said there has been no irregularities in the tender process and no question of cancelling the auction of Jaipur sand quarry arises. The Sub-Collector held discussions with the protestors but the latter are adamant over their demand and still staging dharna in front of the tehsil office, she added.