The Maharashtra government will unveil a sand mining policy within a month, to ease the sand shortage faced by the realty sector.
The move is also expected to bolster revenue for the state exchequer – at present, a majority of the sand dredging in the state is done illegally by a thriving sand mafia.
Revenue minister Eknath Khadse said, “We are formulating a policy based on the directions of the court. This sand-mining policy will be applicable across the state.”
Admitting that the sand mafia has a free run in the state, he said, “Sand dredging is banned in many areas like Raigad. But sand is being supplied illegally to builders.” Illegal sand mining was a major menace in coastal areas, prompting it to be banned in many eco-sensitive zones. Last year, the ban was lifted from some areas in the Konkan.
Khadse also announced a crackdown on the sand mafia, saying, “The authorities are doing good work, but we are seeing attacks by the mafia. We will invoke the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act against such elements,” he said.
The issue was raised in the legislative Council by Jayant Patil, leader of the Peasants and Workers Party, who rued the loss of revenue to the exchequer due to the mafia’s activity. “These people are acting with impunity and illegally transporting sand to the builders. The state is losing revenue because of them,” said Patil.