Illegal sand mining: 48 arrested in Bihar’s Bhojpur

Cops, however, have failed to arrest any of the chieftains of the region’s powerful sand mafia. 

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Monday 26 July 2021
Illegal sand mining: 48 arrested in Bhojpur

A joint team of police officers in Bihar arrested 48 people, mostly labourers, and seized nine medium and big boats on July 25, 2021 for illegal sand mining in Son river in Bihar’s Bhojpur district. 

All the seized boats were destroyed near the river bank bank, the police officers said. Cops, however, have failed to arrest any of the chieftains of the region’s powerful sand mafia. 

A joint team of district police from eight police stations, rapid action force, riot control battalion, tear gas team on two steamers and two big boats launched a 10-hour operation early Sunday morning. “It was a successful operation and crackdown against illegal sand mining will continue,” said Bhojpur superintendent of police Vinay Tiwary, who led the team.

However, barely three hours after the operation, illegal sand mining resumed in the area, according to an officer of the Koilwal police station. People in hundreds of vessels were seen illegally extracting sand from the riverbeds on Monday as well. “Hundreds of trucks and other heavy vehicles carrying sand left from the banks of Sone river since Sunday night for different destinations,” the officer added. 

Illegal sand mining is carried out by powerful sand mafia operating in several districts, including Patna, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Saran and Vaishali during monsoon. The members of the mafia are very well-armed and often outnumber police team, leading to inaction, the officer said. 

“Illegal sand mining takes place in rivers across the state in broad daylight and in full knowledge of authorities,” said Ranjeev, a river activist Ranjeev. Sand mafia enjoy the support of the strong nexus of politicians and police, he added.

“They are exploiting the natural resources mindlessly and it is posing a threat to the riverbeds, natural flow of water and fishes” 

The deputy superintendents of police of Bhojpur, Patna, Rohtas and Aurangabad districts were removed mid July from their posts following complaints of police support in the illegal trade. 

Sand mining was banned for three months from July 1 to September 30 in the state as per the order of the National Green Tribunal.

The National Green Tribunal in 2020 constituted a fresh committee to probe the allegations of illegal sand mining being carried out using heavy machines in Son river. It contested the report by the Bihar State Pollution Control Board claimed no sand was mined in the river.

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