Authorities in Bihar’s Rohtas district have found no takers for tenders floated a fortnight ago for blasting approach roads to a part of Kaimur hills to check illegal mining. Sources said the fear of “a powerful and well-entrenched” stone mafia could be the reason for the lack of interest. Authorities have now decided to invite fresh tenders.
“It is possible that Bihar-based firms lack expertise of blasting roads. There could be some such companies working in Jharkhand,” mines and minerals (Rohtas) assistant director Gyanendra Kumar told The Indian Express, explaining the possible reasons for the lack of interest.
Asked if it had something to do with the fear of the mafia, he said he did not know. Kumar underlined that blasting roads was just one way of stopping illegal mining. “We have also requested for check posts on roads leading to the hills. Plus, there have been regular police raids.’’
The state government had decided to cut 15 approach roads to Karbandiya and Bansa panchayats. It had specified that the blast area should be 20 feet wide, 30 feet long and and 20-40 feet deep. The decision, which is perhaps the first such move, was taken after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar chaired a high-level meeting in Sasaram in December. Kumar had expressed displeasure over illegal mining worth hundreds of crores annually and reportedly suggested the unusual move.
The government had in 2009 declared stone mining illegal. Over 300 illegal mining cases have been registered but no arrests have been made. Over a dozen policemen had been suspended over the last two years for their alleged complicity with the mafia.