Flying squad, ban do little to curb sand mining in Tiracol

PERNEM: Despite the government having recently constituted a patrol-cumflying-squad to monitor and crack down on illegal , a large number of canoes were seen extracting hundreds of cubic metres of sand on Saturday in the Tiracol river, from the mouth till the border touching in Maharashtra.

Earlier this week, the high court of Bombay at Goa came down heavily on the government for lack of a regulatory mechanism to control the illegal activity and directed an effective enforcement mechanism be put in place immediately.

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The government’s half-hearted attempts to implement effective checks on illegal sand mining has emboldened the perpetrators over the years. Every time there is a raid, they stop their activities only to resume a couple of days later. It is time the officials were severely penalised for their negligent attitude that is resulting in rampant environmental damage. Also, control mechanisms without the backing of technology like GPS tracking and monitoring systems is as good as an eye wash.

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Patrol vessels from CoP and security police have been deployed. The directorate of mines and geology annually announces the end of sand mining season from June 1 and imposes a ban on mining till September 30. On Saturday, about 50-60 canoes were seen extracting sand in broad daylight in the Tiracol river.

The government allows extraction of about 600 cubic metres of sand per canoe in three months. However, in the absence of a system to monitor the quantity of the sand being extracted, permit holders extract sand much beyond the permissible limit during the allowed period itself and also addition during the ban period, said a source.

The court has also directed the flying squad to check whether stipulations listed by the Goa State Environment Impact Assessment Authority while giving environmental clearance are being enforced.

Hundreds of canoes extract sand from the Tiracol river at Kiranpani, Paliem, Bhalkhajan, Devsu, Korgao, Paraste, Konadi, Naibag, Poraskade, Tamboxem, Ugvem and Torsem villages. Unofficial estimates suggest extraction in the Tiracol river constitutes about 35% of the total sand extracted from rivers across the state.

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