A group of residents from the villages along the banks of Tapi river in Surat met the district collector on Monday and requested him to allow them to mine sand from the river.
Officials from the mines and mineral department had recently cracked down on illegal sand mining in the area.
Locals from Gavier,Dumas,Bhimpore,Magdalla and Vata villages submitted a memorandum to district collector A J Shah,saying manual sand mining from Tapi had been going on for generations. They also argued that after a weir-cum-causeway was made,water flow to a portion of Tapi had stopped,leading to huge deposits of sand. This,they said,not only affected their fishing activities but it also posed a problem for the Gujarat Maritime Board,which had to spend a lot of money on dredging.
Jayesh Patel,who led the group of villagers,said,Officials have been harassing the villagers carrying out sand mining. We had even offered to pay some royalty but they did not agree.