The state government can award contracts for mechanical sand dredging on the river bed of Kalandi in Raigad district, but only until July 31. The Bombay high court gave this permission for only seven of the 31 plots.
On Wednesday, a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Vazifdar vacated its earlier stay restraining the government from awarding contracts for mechanical sand dredging along the 4.5-km stretch even after opening the bids.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Matsya va Raeti Vyavasaik Sevabhavi Saunstha, Dasgaon, an association of fishermen engaged in manual sand dredging.
The court asked the state to take a decision expeditiously on whether sand dredging has to be carried out either through auction or permits be given to hatpadis (local fishermen who manually dredge sand) on the 24 remaining plots along the rivers Kalandi and Savitri.
The bench also asked the hatpadis to make a representation to the revenue department within two weeks.
The Saunstha had challenged the government resolution, dated October 25, 2010, wherein it substantially altered its policy with regard to sand dredging on riverbeds at Raigad. This adversely affected the fishermen, who have been engaged in manual excavation of sand after due permission from the collector.
On Wednesday, Gayatri Singh and Kranti LC, advocates for the hatpadis, opposed the awarding of contract saying they would lose their livelihood. “Anyways, they had to give up fishing due to water pollution caused by the nearby industries,” argued Singh.
Additional government pleader Vijay Patil said the contract would be awarded for hardly six months.