Nagpur: A group of prominent sand ghat contractors of Nagpur district on Saturday (September 17) announced they will boycott the auction of sand ghats to be conducted by Collector’s Office on September 20, 2016, for various reasons main being bar on use of machines in excavation of sand.
Addressing a press conference, the contractors namely Rajendra Kamble, Santosh Kamble, Amit Gedam, Mahesh Gupta, Abdul Qadir, Afzal Ansari, Damodar Rokde, Sunil Bhutani, Vijay Patil, Pravin Agrawal, Jayendra Barde, Dhamma Chikhle, Hansaraj Vanjari, Gaurav Jain, Praful Kapse, Sharad Rai, and Ramesh Karemore said that they are boycotting the sand ghat auction being conducted by Collectorate on September 20, 2016. “The auction is being held online. The terms and conditions have been made public by the District Administration. The rules prohibit use of ant type of machine for excavation of sand at ghats. But considering the geographic position of Vidarbha, sand mining and loading in vehicles is not possible without machines,” the contractors said.
They further said that the district administration earned Rs 28 crore through auction of sand ghats last year. But by deploying drones and finding use of machines in sand mining, the authorities shut down 13 sand ghats. These closed down ghats include Saholi, Ramdongri, Kahpapeth, Temburdoh, Dhalgaon, Kahiri, Waki, Palora, Mathni, Neri, Bawangaon and Old Kamptee. Deposits and environment bank guarantees of these sand ghats were seized.
“The temperature in Vidarbha reaches 45 to 48 degree Celsius during peak summer. In this hazardous condition, excavation of sand by hands is not possible. Similarly, they face shortage of labourers to be deployed for sand mining. Hence, machines are the only alternative left with them for sand excavation,” the contractors pleaded.
Interestingly, the District Administration deployed a drone for surveillance at Waki sand ghat on August 4, 2016 but the notice to shut down the ghat was served on August 2, 2016. It means, everything was “fixed” beforehand as to which sand ghat to keep open and which ghat to shut down. The drone was used only at auctioned sand ghats and the ghats that were not auctioned were left “abandoned” for sand stealers. This way the district administration dented the state coffers in crores. “Even today, sand stealing is going on openly at these ghats,” the contractors charged.
The contractors in the end demanded permission for use of machines in sand mining at ghats considering the geographical and climactic condition in Vidarbha. If the terms and conditions laid down for auction of sand ghats are not reviewed, the price of sand would touch skies. Similarly, construction activities could go costly as well as affected, they argued.
– Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha ( firstname.lastname@example.org )