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Forest department springs into action after alleged nexus with sand mafia exposed

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  13 Jan 2016 12:00 AM GMT

From a Correspondent

JORHAT, January 12: The DFO (Divisiol Forest Officer) of Jorhat, Swapan Saikia who had till now complained of not being able to locate a single truck/dumper engaged with illegal excavation of the white sandy soil from the countryside at multiple points near the mighty Brahmaputra in Jorhat, has filly been able to catch hold of a mini 609 dumper laded with sand after a news in The Sentinel exposed the nefarious design of the sand mafia who in an alleged connivance with the forest, water resource department and the district administration was trying to divert a channel of the Brahmaputra in Jorhat.

In a telephonic conversation, DFO Swapan Saikia said, “Today I caught one dumper laden with white sand and brought the truck to my office campus. But now I am hearing reports that a large number of the public associated with the illegal trade have been raising hue and cry at my office because of which I had to call in the police.”

Earlier, Conservator M Tungnung of the Eastern Assam Circle (I.F.S) informed about taking stern action against such illegal dredging and ensured departmental and discipliry action against those forest department official or officials found having a nexus with the illegal trade.

The Executive Engineer of the Water Resource Department, Sudhir Kumar Das, had earlier put the blame on the forest department and the district administration while leveling accusations that the excavated site should have been more of a concern of the forest and the civil administration as the Water Resource division was only entrusted to look after the river side. Latest imagery from Google Earth clearly shows the already excavated site to be only a few meters away from the Water Resource embankment and this has led to concern among the people of the Jorhat about the grave threat posed after the land was found to be tilting. Speculations are that just once if the Brahmaputra finds a point of entry through seepage arising out of the tilted and excavated site then perhaps no agency or department will be in a position to stop the devastation.

Above all, crores of rupees were lost by the government as revenue which could have been collected by the forest department as royalty from these illegal sites running without permit which has also led the genuine tender allotted to bidders to dig sand from the Bhogdoi river bed for a period of seven years and on a value estimated at more than Rs 3 crore.

Illegal mining of the white sandy soil has led the government sand mahal owners suffer loss in business with people involved with construction business opting for the white sandy soil than the conventiol yellow river sand. Scientifically, non-sale of the sand has led to further deposit of silt in the river bed. This has given rise to the probability of increased water level during floods in the rainy season in absence of dredging.

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