The illegal sand mining activity near the Belapur-Uran road has stopped and the miscreants have deserted the spot earlier this week after TOI reported about it. Activists who had informed NMTV about the illegal activity said that the miscreants possibly got wind of a raid slated to be carried out by the authorities.
RTI activist Anarjit Chauhan said that a few of them recently complained about the illegal sand mining operations by the creek. “Heavy-duty suction pumps were being used to pile up over 200 brass of sand at the site,” said Chauhan. “But after a complaint was lodged with Panvel tehsildar Deepak Akade, we noticed that sand mining completely stopped and those involved have disappeared.”
When NMTV revisited the spot, none of the suction pumps that were being used for illegal sand mining was seen. Tehsil officials said they are making enquiries after the complaint was lodged and will take action against the perpetrators.
Environmentalist D Stalin of Vanashakti, a non-profit body, said that government officials must not wait for citizens to complain or media to report about such activity. “Constant patrolling along the creek is the only solution to stop rampant destruction of wetlands by sand miners. Often, they destroy mangroves along the coast to carry out sand dredging.”
Akade had earlier told NMTV that action would be taken against the miscreants and “no one will be spared as it is a serious crime against environment”.
Another environmentalist, Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, said that the National Green Tribunal has prohibited sand mining by using heavy-duty machinery. “Heavy penalty and a jail term is the only way to deter criminals,” she said.
Abdulali added that if government officials are found to be in cahoots with miners, they should be suspended and an inquiry conducted against them.