Guards de­ployed to curb il­le­gal sand min­ing near air­port site

CIDCO ACTS ON COM­PLAINTS The squad has reg­is­tered po­lice cases against three sand mafias

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Tas­neem Kausar ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com Tas­neem Kausar ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

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