Preliminary information indicates that about 32 cubic metres of sand was thrown back into the Camurlim River and 600 cubic metres into the Mandovi River
Panaji/Ponda/Mapusa : Ahead of a contempt petition hearing on illegal sand mining, the government on Thursday in a belated action carried out intensive operations of putting sand back into the rivers for the purpose of replenishment of areas where illegal extraction took place.
The last-moment operation was to comply with High Court directions which asked the government to either restore the sand back into the rivers or put it to public use. The government decided to carry out restoration activities and dumped sand in rivers across the state.
About five teams comprising of officials from the mining department, Captain of Ports and the two district collectorates were involved in the exercise. Until late evening, the teams had not returned, according to reports.
A senior government source revealed that sand was thrown back into areas notorious for illegal sand mining such as the rivers of Chapora, Teracol, Colvale, Narve (Bicholim) and also in rivers of Savio Verem, Betki (Ponda), among others. The mining department was unable to give information of the exact quantity of sand dumped into the rivers as the operation had not concluded.
However, preliminary information indicates that about 32 cubic metres of sand was thrown back into the Camurlim River and 600 cubic metres into the Mandovi River. In Ponda, the flying squads visited various spots along the river Mandovi and seized sand lying on river banks from January 2019 till date.
The sand was cleared with the help of two JCB machines in Ponda where officials of the flying squads said that no one had come forward to claim the seized sand. Volvoi, Savoi Verem, Khandola and Marcel are the main spots of sand mining in Ponda
A contempt petition filed by the Goa River Sand Protection Network (GRSPN), an umbrella organisation of activists is due for hearing in the High Court on Friday, January 10. The petitioners said that illegal sand mining is rampant as the state failed to curb unlawful extraction despite a court order banning the activity.
In December 18, the High Court delivering judgment on a petition filed by the Federation of Rainbow Warriors had issued directions asking the government to adopt remedial measures to prevent and control illegal sand extraction.
The measures among others included seizing the canoes or boats used for illegal sand mining, prosecution of the guilty as well as replenishment of rivers where illegal extraction takes place.
The High Court order said, “The state and its authorities shall ensure that the illegally mined sand stacked on the river banks or on plots close to the river banks is put back into the river or used for the purpose of replenishment of the areas, where erosion has taken place on account of indiscriminate sand mining or other natural causes. The expenses for this will have to be initially borne by the state and its agencies. However, the state and its agencies, should invariably recover such expenses from those found involved in illegal sand mining at the site,” the High Court said.