Udupi, (The Hindu): Pramod Madhwaraj, Minister for Fisheries, Youth Empowerment and Sports, paid a surprise visit to the Department of Mines and Geology at the District Offices Complex here on Monday. He sought details of the steps taken by the department.
Officers told him that ?9,700 was needed for a GPS equipment to be installed in a vehicle transporting sand, and ?19,000 was needed for one on a boat.
The sand extractors, who said the instrument was available for ?3,500 a piece, were told that the one approved by the district administration met all technical specifications.
Mr. Madhwaraj said the administration had given permission for the removal of sand bars in Coastal Regulation Zone areas of rivers, where sand had accumulated and was obstructing the movement of boats. Environmental protection was accorded priority.
The administration had only permitted removal of this excess sand as per the directions of the Union Ministry of Environment and the courts. The permit holders should remove sand only from the designated areas.
The administration had imposed conditions for permit holders so that there was no legal problems or stay orders from the courts later on. “We only want sand to be available for people in the district at a low price. We do not want sand from the district to be transported elsewhere. Some persons are interested in getting the process of sand removal stopped,” he said.
Two technicians have been appointed in Udupi and three each in Brahmavar and Kundapur to keep track of the movement of GPS-equipped vehicles transporting sand, the officers said.
“If permit holders, following all regulations, face any problems or delay by officers, they can approach me, I will take action,” Mr. Madhwaraj said. He directed V. Kodandaramaiah, senior geologist, Department of Mines and Geology, to allow only those permit holders who followed all regulations to remove the sand bars.
The District Sand Monitoring Committee had restricted the extraction of sand within 250 metres upstream of the river and 500 metres downstream of the river from the bridges, Mr. Madhwaraj said. Priyanka Mary Francis, Deputy Commissioner, was present.
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