Residents of Hinjewadi alert authorities to sand mining on Mula riverbed
PUNE Thanks to the residents of Hinjewadi, illegal sand mining, allegedly going on in the Mula river, has once again been brought to the notice of the authorities.
Following complaints from residents, officials of the state irrigation department visited the site and found deep holes on the riverbed where miners had scraped sand from.
“We did a site inspection after we got a call from the residents that sand was being illegally mined and we went to check, but they had left in a hurry. We saw track marks and a JCB was used for loading. Tonight we will depute officials to catch them red handed and keep a vigil,” said Ashok Late, junior engineer, irrigation department.
Walkers and joggers, on Monday, spotted activity close to the Mula at 6am. This digging was continuing at a fast pace along a small bridge on the river near Blue Ridge Towers 18 and 19.
“I saw an earth moving machine digging the sand from the riverbed and there was a dumper standing next to it where they were filling the sand in. This was at around 6 in the morning and the dumper was almost full... that means they were doing it from very early in the morning and were about to leave. However, the dumper got stuck in the sand on the riverbed, and few people who were there tried to push the dumper out. After their failed attempt, they emptied the sand and only then could they move the dumper from that spot,” said Ravi Kiran Reddy, a resident of Blue Ridge.
There is a heap of sand along the side of the bridge.
Local representatives, along with the Hinjewadi residents’ welfare association (HIRWA), informed the police officials.
Reddy pointed out that although he has witness to the sand mining in action for the first time, he has seen trucks carrying sand away from the river. “These people should be punished for their actions as it creates an environment hazard for us, that could lead to a flood next to our society,” added Reddy.
Vikram Sakare, sarpanch, Hinjewadi said, “This is the first time I have heard of sand mining on this side of the river. We have spoken with the other members of the panchayat and will keep a vigil to catch the people illegally sand mining. We will work together with HIRWA and residents to make sure that the river is protected.”
Residents to the rescue
In November 2020, a group of alert citizens kept vigil and managed to catch illegal sand miners red handed. A chance observation by an alert citizen, followed by co-ordinated efforts of residents of Aundh, Baner and Pashan helped crack down on a sand mafia operation going on within the city. “We realised that the gang had already destroyed the eco-sensitive confluence of Ramnadi with the Mula river, altering its very structure, with most of the excavation done under water, making it invisible,” said Pushkar Kulkarni, resident of Baner, who caught the culprits red handed.
“The current status of the river is such that from being more than 30 metres wide, it has now become only 17 metres wide and the banks have been eroded. Thus, when gates of the dams open, the flow of the river will accelerate and erode faster to cause flooding,” said Kulkarni. “When we got closer to the spot we noticed that there were two trailers without registration numbers that were being loaded with sand from the excavators. The damage outside the river is visible, but they managed to extract the sand from the basin where the water level is intact making the damage immeasurable. We are still keeping a vigil on the river,” added Kulkarni.