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Chhattisgarh: Sand mafia loots Shivnath River

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New Delhi, July 03: Sand mafia has been openly looting Shivnath River in Chhattisgarh and causing exchequer loss of crores of rupees, say sources.

The 345-kilometres Shivnath River is the longest tributary of Mahanadi River, which it joins in Khargahni in Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh.

File photo of Shivnath River

It originates in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra and joins the Mahanadi River near the small town Shivrinarayan in Chhattisgarh.

According to sources, till now sand mafia has been able to sell the looted sand worth crores of rupees.

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Open loot of sand from Shivnath River is being committed from Ambagarh Chowki to Rajnandgaon at various places like Ratapaayli, Ghorda, Medha, Sukhri, Barsantola, Chiladabri, Salekasa etcetera.

According to sources, looted sand is being transported daily in hundreds of trucks to various places, including Mumbai.

"Anyone can see the dumped illegal sand at different spots but it is surprising that only the administration is not able to see the loot," a source tells One India.

He adds that sometimes the administration takes action against sand mafia for namesake and routine. Therefore, the loot is still going at various places from Shivnath River.

Surprisingly, Congress District President (Rural) Vibha Sahu has opened front against the Congress led state government.

She has alleged that Collector Jai Prakash Mourya is hand-in-glove with the sand mafia.

She has threatened to launch agitation against the administration saying that despite several complaints no action has been taken against the sand mafia and regularly sand is being extracted from Shivnath River at various points.

The Collector says that the Mineral department is facing manpower crunch and hence requisite action is not being taken.

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According to an informed source, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was ruling the state then every year during the summer season the Congress leaders used to launch agitation against illegal sand mining, but now with the change of guard the same Congress leaders have joined hands with the sand mafia.

"Congress leader Vibha Sahu is making hue and cry because she is not getting her piece of cake. Mark my works, when her palms would be greased then she won't make any noise," says the source.

He says that not only the administration but also Panchayats have been overlooking loot by sand mafia for a price.

It's notable that Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is also holding Mining portfolio.

In 2015, the Supreme Court issued notices to Centre and all the states on a public interest petition that sought framing of rules to prevent illegal sand mining in river beds. The petition was filed by Delhi based lawyer, Indra Sawhney on behalf of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

The petition said the rivers are being plundered by a powerful mafia andthe illegal trade is driven by the unholy nexus between contractors, politicians, trade union leaders, panchayat, revenue officials and corrupt policemen.

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