Bokajan: Uncontrolled mining of sand and gravel from river beds and agricultural lands has assumed an alarming proportion in the hill district of Karbi Anglong. Urbanization and the construction boom has played a huge role in upping the demand for sand. The district of Karbi Anglong is crisscrossed with several downstream rivers and rivulets and sand mining here has been an old practice. The KAAC floats tenders to mine sand from these river beds. However, a lot more than the prescribed limit of extraction is carried out in these rivers.
Karbi Anglong alone caters to the sand demand of Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland. The State of Manipur is also sourcing construction sand from Karbi Anglong. This has escalated the demand and has spawned a thriving black market of sand here.
The rising demand for construction grade sand and the unprecedented lack of jobs have pushed many tribal youths into this lucrative sand mining business. River beds and agricultural land with sand deposits have been scrapped and stripped bare by openly flouting all rules and regulations of sand mining. The practice of using suction machines to pump out sand has, of late, made the matter worse.
In the Balipathar area of Bokajan, unscientific extraction of sand from agricultural land using suction machines is a common phenomenon. This activity is carried out in broad daylight under the very nose of the forest department and the district administration. Machines operate round-the-clock as huge mounds of recently excavated sand can be seen piled up along the NH-39 on a regular basis. This practice is allegedly carried out in connivance with the forest department. The department’s presence is limited to the highway and a few seizures periodically. However, on ground, the department has deliberately failed to enforce regulations and stop exploitation. This issue of illegal sand mining has also stripped the KAAC in terms of revenue. KAAC has failed to tap substantial revenue due to illegal sand mining. A truckload of illegally mined sand (400 cft) costs anything between Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 at source depending on the quality. No forest royalty is paid on this quality of sand causing a severe loss of revenue to KAAC. Hundreds of such trucks ply on the highway regularly.
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