Guards deployed to curb illegal sand mining near airport site
CIDCO ACTS ON COMPLAINTS The squad has registered police cases against three sand mafias
The City and Industrial Corporation is worried about the safety of the hills around the proposed international airport project. The area is vulnerable to sand theft.
The new airport will require around 6.75 crore cubic metre sand for filling up the airport airstrip area.
Cidco has deployed armed guards to curb illegal sand mining that often takes place in night time. The squads had primarily been posted to protect the airport project area from encroachments and illegal constructions, but they now have an additional responsibility. The squad has registered police cases against three sand mafias accused of illegal sand mining in the area.
Sanjay Choudhary, chief engineer of Cidco, said: “We had received complaints of large-scale sand theft from the airport project area. Some vested interests had installed large scale machinery for the purpose.”
With both the pre-work and actual work processes in progress, the airport project seems to be on the right track.
Tender process and work orders for pre-project work that include levelling of land, cutting of Ulwe hill, replacing overhead electric wires to underground cables and other such works of around Rs3,500 crore have been issued by Cidco for the airport project. The work is expected to start after the monsoon.
If the illegal sand mining continues, Cidco will face a shortfall of sand for the levelling of the two runways that are to be constructed. Choudhary added, “The sand required for levelling the airport land will cost Cidco an additional Rs25 crore to Rs30 crore if brought from elsewhere. As per IIT specified norms, we are making efforts to use the available sand.”
The tender process to select the entity for the actual construction of the airport is in full swing. With Hiranandani-Zurich conglomerate getting security clearance, the tender process has been delayed a bit to give enough time to it to submit its proposal. The airport will finally have 4 proposals.
Cidco is expected to fill up 5 m of land for the airport project. The remaining 3m of land filling will be undertaken by the selected company.
Even as the security guards posted along Uran shore are awaiting security equipment and funds, the funds given by Raigad district planning committee to Uran Municipal Council (UMC) are to be returned.
Uran coastal region falls under the gram panchayat jurisdiction and since the funds were allocated to UMC, they remained unutilised. Hence a decision has been taken to return the funds.
There are four talukas in Raigad district — Uran, Alibaug, Shrivardhan and Murud that are located along the shoreline. Thousands of tourists flock to these areas all round the year. There are several instances when tourists cannot judge the tides and depth of the waters which leads to accidents.
To prevent such instances, in 2006, the tourism department had issued a government notification. It stated that for the purpose of security in the coastal areas, the local self governments should provide for watch towers, life jackets, life boats, search lights, ropes, signboards displaying security norms and so on.
Accordingly, Raigad deputy commissioner of police had in February 2016 distributed funds to the government bodies for the coastal security purpose. It gave Rs1 lakh to Uran tehsil office and Rs2.5 lakh to UMC.
According to Uran tehsildar, Kalpana Gode, The funds allocated to Uran tehsil office were used for the security equipment and infrastructure of tourists at Gharapuri island that houses the Elephant caves.”
Sandeep Khomne, acting CEO of UMC, said: “The coastal area falls under the gram panchayat jurisdiction and not within the purview of UMC.”
He added, “Hence, we could not use the funds given to us by deputy commissioner of police. We will soon return it to them.” Volunteers clean the Kopri creek and collect waste which mostly comprised of plastic, gunny bags, gutka wrappers, thermocol and puja materials.