THE Gadchiroli police have finally registered offences of theft and attempt to theft in the illicit sand-mining case of Sironcha. Raids were conducted on the sand mines on Godavari bed on February 11, three days after The Indian Express reported on the violation of rules by the sand mine contractors. The Gadchiroli administration had auctioned about 45 hectares of area in Godavari and Pranhita river beds last year. Many illegalities were being committed, such as mining after sunset, mining with machines, mining beyond leased areas, non-fulfilment of compensatory plantation, overloading, etc.
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But despite seizure of 74 trucks and four JCBs during a joint raid by the police and revenue officials at Nagaram and Wadadham mines on February 11, no offences were registered in the matter. The Gadchiroli administration had, however, issued showcause notices to six mine contractors asking them to reply why their leases shouldn’t be cancelled. The contractors were expected to reply by February 28.
“We have registered offences against drivers of 21 sand-filled trucks for theft and those of 42 empty trucks seized from the two mine sites for attempt to theft. The drivers are currently absconding,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express.
The officer added: “We have sought detailed report from the Sironcha tehsildar about the contractors of these mines, the nature of violations etc. As soon as we get the report, and after studying judgments in previous such cases, we will take a call on registration of offences against the contractors too.”
Meanwhile, the mine contractors have submitted their replies to the showcause notices. “My office received the replies today. We will duly study them in a day or two,” said Additional Collector Mahesh Awhad.