Nagpur: The successful or unsuccessful experiment of deploying drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to watch sand mafia and the entire action process have come under cloud.
The Shiv Sena leader Vardharaj Pillai has charged the District Administration of double standards in the auction of sand ghats as well as truant ghat holders. The charges include preferential treatment to some specific entities by the office of District Collector.
According to Pillai, the District Collector had floated tenders for auctioning of sand ghats in the year 2015-16. The permission for this was taken from Environment Department as per the directives of High Court. The Environment Department, while granting permissions on December 3, 2015 and January 16, 2016, had put up a few terms and conditions. One of the conditions was that the sand excavation wpuld be done only by manpower and machines will not be used. Also, 2 percent bank guarantee will have to be taken from ghat holders. Apart from these riders, the sand ghat holders will have to plant trees at 20 percent of auctioned ghat or on the roads used for transporting the excavated sand that too in the presence of district forest officials, Pillai said.
Pillai further said that the district administration has deployed drones for surveillance of illegal excavation of sand by unscrupulous elements or sand mafia. These drones have been procured from Nagpur’s Embedded Creations at only Rs 2 lakh as hire charge. Now the question is: Is the sand worth crores could be watched effectively with these Rs 2 lakh drones? It is absolutely not possible, Pillai stated.
The Shiv Sena leader also raised doubts over the intentions of District Collectorate and its working style. “A Gujarat company has been contracted to prepare e-tendering process of sand ghats while a Pune company has been assigned the work of printing of “Royalty Book” of vehicles transporting the mined sand. All these facts raise eyebrows,” Pillai claimed.
“Moreover, the drone has been deployed after sand excavation got started five months ago. The small time ghat holders at Mathni, Varegaon, Palora, Old Kamptee etc were put under drone surveillance and action initiated against them for illegal acts. At the same time, the major ghats (at Pipla, Waki, Neri etc) were put under surveillance after the small time ghat holders raised their voice. The illegal acts were noticed there but the Collectorate, instead of immediate action, issued 15-day show cause notices to them. Later the sand ghats were shut down. But it was too late as sand in hundreds of trucks was already lifted and transported,” Pillai charged.
Pillai further said that the drone also surveyed those sand ghats (at Palora) where the successful ghat holders were neither given possession nor issued royalty books.
– Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha ( rajeev.nagpurtoday@g