BARIPADA: Excess sand lifting from the Budhabalanga river bed leading to land erosion and lack of compensation for the same, has sparked anger among locals of Badasahi tehsil in Mayurbhanj. Absence of local development as part of royalty is also contributing to the simmering discontentment.
Residents of Arapata revenue village, which comprises over 1,000 families, are now alleging the tehsildar of conniving with the illegal sand mafia and depriving them of their due entitlements. Sources said in 2016-17, the tehsildar of Badasahi, Mamtaj Maharana, gave permission to a leaseholder Pradeep Bindhani to lift 2,900 cubic metre of sand instead of 2,400 from over 13 acres of the river bed, five years.
While lifting of the excess 500 cubic metre of sand is in violation of mining rules, allegations are coming to the fore that the leaseholder is not paying royalty for the extra mining either. Over 70-80 farmers in the area have land along both sides of the river bed and are now suffering the damage caused by sand mining. As per provisions under Mining Rules, 25 per cent of the royalty is used for local development like road construction or compensation to affected families. However, villagers are alleging that no such development is being carried out since the lease was given.
“Over the last four years, regular plying of dumpers and tractors for sand mining have damaged the village road but the repair is yet to take place. I approached authorities but there’s no response,” said former sarpanch of Madhapur, Chintamani Tudu who is also a farmer. He said the excess sand lifting has affected farming activities but the administration is looking the other way.
Farmer Ranjan Kumar Patra said at least 2 acres of his farming land has eroded due to excess sand lifting but he is still paying tax. Another aggrieved farmer Vimsen Naik of Ward no-9 said former Badasahi MLA Ganeswar Patra had assured affected people of due compensation. On the other hand, the present MLA of Badasahi Sanatan Bijuli said he has been protesting against illegal sand mining in front of the local police station, for last five days.
Admitting the lapse, Badasahi additional tehsildar Pruthiraj Parida said, "Apart from excess lifting, the lease holder has also given power of attorney to three other people in violation of rules." Meanwhile, Collector Vineet Bhardwaj said an inquiry will be conducted and steps taken to recover the royalty amount. Badasahi tehsildar Mamtaj Maharana could not be contacted despite many attempts.