Published On : Mon, Sep 12th, 2016

Drones deployed to curb sand mafia may expose dubious acts of babus, too

illegal sand mining (1)

Nagpur: Sand pilfering is emerging as one of the most lucrative “business” in Nagpur district. And it is flourishing, too, no end. The sand mafia is pocketing a big moolah, of course, at the State Government expense. But now this illegal act could be under the surveillance of a hawk-eye from the skies. The District Administration has deployed drones to keep a watch on the activities of sand mafia and put them behind the bars as well. But the dubious business goes on and on will all hand-in-glove. It is the grim reality, unfortunately. The drones could expose this grim reality, too.

The Nagpur district boasts of having over two dozen sand ghats. 75 percent of these ghats are auctioned by the District Administration in accordance with the strictly formulated rules and regulations. But rules are meant to be broken, seems, to be the motto all stakeholders. This is an open secret and deserves no serious pondering. As per the tender rules, the sand excavation has to take place between sunrise and sunset in the fixed area vis-à-vis length, breadth and deepness of the ghats. There is a rule that the excavated sand has to be watered and covered while being transported by a predetermined road. But the District Collectorate, Mining Department, SDO office, Tehsildar, Patwari and the concerned police station have been found violating the rules with impunity.

Those venturing out in the sand business have to first take babus of concerned department into “confidence.” The sand trade is being run by a group of “elite” businessmen and some influential “white-collared” persons and their close ones since years. But now-a-days, others too have jumped in the fray with the sole intention of earning easy money, and they are flourishing, too. The competition has reached the “cut throat” level and hence witnessing increase in criminal activities of all kinds. These nefarious activities could be curbed but “who will bell the cat.”

No doubt, drones are being deployed to get the rid of illegal acts of unscrupulous elements. But the close ones could be out of the net and the “hostile” competitors could be targeted. And this invariably is happening.

Truly speaking, ending of ‘Mafia Raj’ at sand ghats is no kid’s play and hence out of question. The District Administration lacks the “capable hand.” Unless the “white-collared” entities stay away from the this lucrative business the “show” will go on. Recently, MCOCA was invoked against sand mafia but the business goes on as usual.

Huge quantity of sand stocked before monsoon:
The demand for sand is at peak during rainy season. The rate touches the skies. And to take advantage of the “ripe” situation, the mafia stocks sand in huge quantities well before monsoon. The stocks are hidden at an appropriate place even at agriculture field. And the District Administration initiates action for the name sake and spares the big fish.

– Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha (