Illegal sand mining rampant in Panvel creek, say activists

B B Nayak, Times News Network Apr 12 2017

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NAVI MUMBAI: Illegal sand miners are having a field day in Panvel creek even as the administration has initiated a crackdown against unauthorized excavators in the creek between Thane and Kalyan, allege activists.

Sand dredging is going on brazenly with heavy suction pumps, cranes, boats in broad daylight, resulting in rampant destruction of mangroves and wetland, said environmentalists.

Green campaigners blame officials for turning a blind eye despite grievances being brought to their notice. The place where sand minding takes place is close to the Belapur-Ulwe bridge on the Panvel creek. When TOI visited the spot and brought the issue to the notice of revenue officials, they assured that action would be initiated soon.

“Destruction of mangroves due to illegal sand dredging has been a regular feature along the vast creek skirting the satellite city. Authorities are least bothered of such activity. It’s a huge loss to the exchequer,” said Sukumar Killadar, founder of Save Mangroves and Navi Mumbai Existence.

Environmentalists said the dredging activity is also distabilizing the creek bed and the ecosystem. “I have been complaining about the illegal sand mining for years. I am fed up as I failed to see any deterrent action initiated against perpetrators. Several barges can be seen at the spot on a daily basis,” said activist Anarjit Chauhan.
Officials said they filed an FIR against seven people for the offence last week. “The talathi has been instructed to conduct raids in a day or two. Currently, our team is cracking down on sand mafia in other areas along the creek and the Ganeshpuri stretch will be next,” Panvel tehsildar Deepak Akade told TOI.
“We often conduct raids in the area and seize machinery and sand. Last week, we earned a revenue of Rs 19 lakh from the auction of seized sand,” he added.


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