Crackdown on illegal sand mining: Mafia on the run, villagers plant vegetableslucknow Updated: May 23, 2017 17:34 IST
Ramprakash Yadav, a 75-year-old farmer, sits on a cot amid seering sand guarding the vegetable planted on the bed of river Betwa.(HT Photo)
Scorching heat is no deterrent for 75-year-old Ramprakash Yadav, who sits on a cot amid searing sand guarding the vegetable planted on the bed of river Betwa.
“Four months back, I could not dare set foot on the banks of the river due to the terror of sand mafia. They used to beat villagers and even kill them if someone opposed their activities. Dead bodies were buried beneath the sand,” he said.
After the Allahabad high court ordered a CBI probe into illegal sand mining, mafia, machines, trucks and tractor trolleys have virtually vanished.
“Now, the natives of nearby Rinuwa village not only roam freely in the river basin area but have also reclaimed the land to plant vegetable, watermelon and muskmelon that have grown abundantly this season,” Yadav said.
“My eldest son Samsher had migrated to Delhi in search of petty job. In December last year, he died after falling from an under-construction building in Saket area. My younger son Kallu is mentally challenged. Now I have to bear the burden of two families. I had no land and was left with no option but to plant vegetables and watermelon on the river bed vacated by the sand mafia,” he said.
“Due to illegal sand mining for over a decade, water table near Betwa has declined. Wells and hand pumps are running dry and villagers have to trudge long distance to collect potable water,” a farmer Kamala Singh said.
“Sand mafia used earth-moving equipment to dig sand. It has left behind big pits which pose threat for children and cattle,” she added.
“The terror of sand mafia has ended and we are now able to breathe fresh air. The dust blowing from machines, trucks and trolleys filled the air with sand particles. We now hope to get good harvest of vegetable and paddy,” Kamala said.
Gram pradhan of Hasudi village Shivram Lodhi is optimistic that after the check on illegal mining environment will be protected and fishery will get a boost.
A labourer, Jagdish Patel, is worried over the fall in construction work due to ban on mining. “The state government should allow sand mining according to the rules fixed by the court. The price of sand will soar and daily wage labourers will have to strive hard for livelihood as construction work has stopped,” he remarked.
HT has earlier highlighted the issue of illegal mining in Bundelkhand region and the plight faced by the villagers. Taking cognizance of the HT report, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the state government to check illegal mining.
Principal secretary, mining, RP Singh, said the state government had drafted a new mining policy and it had been approved by the high court. “Contractors will get mining rights through e-tendering. The district magistrates (DMs) and superintendents of police (SP) have been directed to launch a crackdown on gangs indulging in illegal mining,” he said.
Speaking on the floor of the legislative assembly on Friday, chief minister Yogi Adityanath said, “The state government has taken steps to check illegal mining. The mining department has been directed to conduct satellite mapping of sand and mineral resources in the state. The government has already ordered a crackdown on sand mafia.”