30 villagers booked for gherao bid on Odisha collector

Sources said due to sand mining, locals apprehend that the river may change its course and devour their village which comes under Gunupur municipality.

Published: 21st September 2022 04:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2022 04:39 AM   |  A+A-

Villagers trying to gherao Rayagada Collector Swadha Dev Singh on Monday | Express

By Express News Service

BERHAMPUR:  Tension prevailed at Katuru in Rayagada’s Gunupur on Tuesday after police registered cases against at least 30 villagers for trying to gherao district Collector Swadha Dev Singh. Opposing sand mining on Vansadhara river bed, villagers on Monday had surrounded Singh who had gone to Gunupur to attend grievance cell at the Deputy Collector’s office.

Sources said due to sand mining, locals apprehend that the river may change its course and devour their village which comes under Gunupur municipality. Earlier, villagers had prevented lifting of sand from the banks of Vansadhara. On getting complaints from the mining lease holders, revenue officials reached the village and advised locals to take up the matter with the district Collector. 

Accordingly, a large number of villagers including women went to the Deputy Collector’s office at Gunupur. When Singh arrived, they stopped her on way and aired their grievance. When they tried to surround her, police personnel present at the spot forcibly dispersed them. 

The irate villagers then entered into a scuffle with the cops. Later, the locals staged dharna in front of the Deputy Collector’s office when Singh was attending the grievance cell. On Tuesday, police registered cases against 30 villagers on the charge of obstructing government officials from performing their duty. Sources said apprehending arrest, villagers are in a state of panic.

Collector Singh said all the prescribed guidelines were followed during sanction of lease for sand mining on Vansadhara river bed. “The allegation of sand mafia being active in the area is not true. As the villagers have some issues with sand mining, we will take up the matter for hearing soon,” she said adding, unlawful activities will not be tolerated.

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