Chief secy, DGP visit Sone riverbed to plan crackdown on sand mafia - Hindustan Times
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Chief secy, DGP visit Sone riverbed to plan crackdown on sand mafia

By, Patna
May 25, 2023 10:01 PM IST

According to people familiar with the matter, it has been decided to set up police pickets near the mining bed with adequate force deployment to rein in the sand mafia.

On Wednesday, there was an unusual gathering of top brass of the state administration in Bihar in the riverine belt of Sone river near Koilwar, barely 50 kms from Patna.

Top officials of state administration gather at Sone rivebed on Thursday. (HT Photo)
Top officials of state administration gather at Sone rivebed on Thursday. (HT Photo)

The reason — the ever growing menace of illegal sand mining, which has led to several gang wars, gunbattles between police and the mafia and a huge loss to the exchequer due to loot of the natural resource.

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Among those present for an on-ground inspection were the state’s top bureaucrat, chief secretary Amir Subhani, state police chief R S Bhatti, principal secretary (mining) Harjot Kaur, Patna district magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajiv Mishra, besides other and senior administration and police officials from Patna and Bhojpur districts.

According to people familiar with the matter, it has been decided to set up police pickets near the mining bed with adequate force deployment to rein in the sand mafia.

“Over two dozen spots, where illegal sand mining takes place, have been identified in Patna, Saran and Bhojpur districts,” said a senior official who was part of the inspection team.

He said the illegal sand mining in the area also leads to rampant overloading on trucks and long traffic snarls from Bihta (in Patna) to Saran via Bhojpur district. “It has been found that the perennial traffic jam on the Veerkunvar Singh bridge, connecting Bhojpur and Saran, is only due to illegal mining and unbridled plying of overloaded trucks. Even pedestrians and two-wheeler riders have difficulty crossing the bridge, while four-wheelers remain stranded for hours. Once illegal mining is stopped, plying of overloaded trucks will stop, which will ease the pressure from the bridge,” said the official, who didn’t want to be named.

Another official said another challenge is that there are several isolated stretches where boat is the only means to reach and there is jurisdictional overlap of more than one police station. “Amnabad-Katesar island, barely 40 kms from Patna, runs through the jurisdiction of three police stations with Patna’s Bihta police station, barely eight kms away, having the largest jurisdiction. It is considered safe for illegal activity as police would not be able to reach there on time unless stationed close by. From July to September, when any mining activity in the rivers is prohibited, the region remains abuzz with machines digging sand day in and day out,” the official said.

“Occasionally, when police or mining officials carry out raids, huge earthmovers, each costing 50-60-lakh, are left abandoned, which points to the high stakes involved. Common man cannot buy even one of them, while dozens of such machines are deployed there any given day. Who are the people pumping in so much money for illegal sand mining? They cannot be ordinary people. The environment ministry also has no concern,” said a local farmer.

Earlier, the National Green Tribunal, during the suo moto hearing on the matter, had directed a committee of chief secretary, state police chief and other officials to study the extent and impact of illegal mining in Sone riverbed, especially in Bihta area, and strengthen the existing enforcement mechanism.

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