Police say some boats were fitted with high-tech equipment to dredge very fine sand, and there were other dedicated boats with a capacity of 10 tonnes to load the mined sand.(HT Photo)
Police say some boats were fitted with high-tech equipment to dredge very fine sand, and there were other dedicated boats with a capacity of 10 tonnes to load the mined sand.(HT Photo)

Illegal river sand mining: Sand worth Rs10 crore, high-tech boats seized from Dungarpur

At least 500 men, including police, and disaster relief officials from Udaipur, were involved in the operation that seized 12 boats from the middle of the Som river.
By Jaykishan Sharma | Hindustan Times, Jaipur
PUBLISHED ON FEB 15, 2019 03:56 PM IST

In a massive action against illegal river sand mining in Dungarpur’s Som river, police seized 12 high-tech boats fitted with dredging implements on Thursday. Police swooped down on different locations in the basin of Som Kamla Amba dam and seized around 6,000 tonnes of river sand, the street value of which is Rs 10 crore, said a police officer.

Police said they were taken aback to find implements-fitted boats in the middle of the river. “The boats have 250mm pipe to dredge fine sand from the river. After draining water from it, the sand is shifted to another boat with another pipe. Each of these other boats had the capacity to load 10 tonnes of sand,” said Dungapur’s superintendent of police Shankar Dutt Sharma, who supervised the operation.

The high-tech boats were so heavy that police called a team of State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) from Udaipur to bring them to the riverbank.

The Dungapur police launched a drive against illegal river sand mining on Monday. In four days, they have seized, apart from these boats, 11 dumper trucks, 12 trucks, 10 tractors, and arrested 28 people. All of them have been sent to judicial custody, police said.

Sharma said this was the first time that boats fitted with such equipment have been seized. Locals said it was common knowledge that at least 50 such boats were in use in three districts of Dungarpur, Chittorgarh and Udaipur.

According to a local, it costs about Rs 70,000 -80,000 to prepare each of these boats for dredging sand. The sand mined through these machines is three to five times finer from normal sand and therefore fetch more price. One tonne of this costs between Rs 15,000 and Rs 18,000, he said.

The Dungarpur SP said more than 500 men, including police and SDRF officials, were involved in the swoop-down. “We formed 13 teams to carry out the operation,” the police officer added.

Police registered 13 FIRS under different sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and Rajasthan Mining Rules.

Jitendra Kumar Upadhyay, director mines and geology, said that he was also surprised to learn that such high-tech boats were being used for mining river sand. “Our teams assisted the police in the operation too,” he said.

“We have launched a search operation in the area and will soon form a team to prevent mining in the river,” Upadhyay said.

Dungarpur SP said besides causing environmental damage by dredging the river, the people involved in the illegal business were also responsible for some road accidents.

“They press on the gas when they see police. In 2018 alone, 50 people were killed in road accidents involving vehicles carrying illegal river sand,” he said.

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