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For people along the Bhima river in Maharashtra, illegal mining is an old story (see 'When Vishnu sleeps', Down To Earth , February 1-15, 2009). The official acknowledgement came when on January 28, about 700 people attacked the sub divisional officer of Pandharpur tehsil during a raid. "I reached the site at Kanhapuri village with the police but realized the smugglers, over 100 of them, outnumbered us. They collected a mob of over 700 people and pelted stones," said Sanjeev Palande, the sub divisional officer. "By the time the reserve force reached, the smugglers had escaped. We managed to seize their mechanized boats and other equipment." Investigations revealed sand mining was going on unchecked for the past six months and that had caused the Bhima river to change its course half a kilometre. A case against the truck drivers has been registered. Palande warned that Bhima was a Kosi in the making and flash floods were imminent.
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