In a major crackdown against collusion between police personnel and sand mafia, the Sidhi police has taken action against nearly 50 police personnel by either suspending them, instituting departmental inquiry against them or removing them from service in the last two months.In one instance, the entire police outpost in Piparohar comprising 16 personnel, headed by a sub-inspector was changed, when the higher-ups found that the entire outpost was involved in abetting illegal sand mining.Police officers have been alleged to collude with mining mafia in these regions, getting a “cut” (commission) for turning a blind eye to illegal mining and overloading of trucks. Attempts to stop illegal mining has met with resistance from locals throughout Madhya Pradesh with officials being threatened and even attacked.Illegal mining in Sidhi is mainly carried out on the banks of Son river, home to now endangered Ghariyal. Mining department officials say that every day, some 400 to 500 trucks of sand are mined. Though there is no official estimate, activists say the government loses crores every year due to illegal mining in Sidhi.Sidhi SP Manoj Shrivastava said they registered around 100 cases against illegal mining in the past two months. “We have also started registering cases of theft under Section 379 of the IPC,” he said.Earlier, when a truck was found carrying more sand than sanctioned under the permit, a case of overloading was registered. Now, police register cases of theft and impound the vehicles.Justifying the theft charge, SP Shrivastava said, “Since you have taken more than your permit sanctions, it is a case of theft, not simply one of overloading.”The government had passed a proposal in the state cabinet in November under which 821 of the 1,266 sand mines in the state would be handed over to the panchayats, while the remaining 445 would be given through auction.