The Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court in its interim order has directed the state government to declare the Chambal sanctuary as a no-vehicle zone and only allow government-owned vehicles, bringing back the spotlight on illegal sand mining in the state.
The court on Tuesday asked the police and civil administration to submit a compliance report within four weeks and directed the superintendent of police and collector of Morena and inspector general of police (Chambal range) to be present during next hearing slated for May 5.
Taking cognizance of a public interest litigation filed by Rakhee Sharma, the court has asked the authorities to install a satellite imagery system, close unauthorised roads leading to river banks, install CCTV cameras at strategically sensitive locations and start regular patrolling.
The PIL was filed following the death of a forest guard Narendra Kumar Singh on March 6. Singh was run over by alleged illegal sand miners when he tried to stop them.
Police arrested the driver of the vehicle Rajesh alias Lalla Gurjar. The vehicle owner Banwari Chola was also booked for murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
The court has also directed the police to set a check post and deploy a state armed force battalion to assist forest guards during patrolling.
Despite ban on sand mining activity in the Chambal Sanctuary in Morena and repeated attacks on government officials indicates the fact that menace continues unabatedly.
Illegal mining was banned along the 435-km stretch of the sanctuary from Sheopur district to Ater in Bhind district following a Supreme Court directive.
Illegal mining of sand is rampant and is controlled by an organised gang that enjoys political patronage.
A large number of landless villagers have taken up illegal sand mining activity in the region. Police and other government agencies have failed to check the menace.
Sand is precious to the real estate industry and the mafia is known to ravage riverbeds and land with heavy equipment to dredge up tonnes of earth and sell it at steep discounts to builders, shaving lakhs of rupees off construction costs.
March 2012: Murder of IPS Narendra Kumar in Morena
September 2013: Attack on forest guard in Morena
January 2014: Attack on SAF personnel and forest guard in Morena
April 2015: Murder of constable Dharmendra Chouhan in Morena
March 4, 2016: Attack on district mining officer JS Bhinde in Bhind
March 4,2016: Attack on superintendent of Ghariyal sanctuary JP Sharma in Morena
March 4, 2016: Attempt to murder Bhind additional superintendent of police Amrut Meena
March 6, 2016: Murder of forest guard Narendra Kumar in Gwalior