It’s not just illegal sand miners, but even government-licensed companies authorised to lift sand from the Yamuna that are indulging in irregularities, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which comes under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, has been told.
A sub-divisional magistrate with the Delhi government has written to an executive engineer in the DJB, alleging that a licensed company has been routinely lifting more sand from the Yamuna riverbed at Sonia Vihar than it can under the licence conditions. The issue was flagged in July and subsequently brought to the attention of the Additional Magistrate of northeast district, who wrote to the DJB and directed it to submit recordings of CCTV cameras installed at the site.
Officials who did not wish to be named said the issues that have been flagged in the latest letter should be acted upon by the government.
“The issue may have been brought to the notice of higher-ups now, but this is something which has been happening for quite long,” an official claimed.
The authorities now plan to tally the vouchers seized from the spot with the number of trucks carrying sand captured by the surveillance cameras. The cameras are installed as part of the licence conditions.
“Such complaints were made in the past as well, but mostly things are covered up. District authorities have written a letter in this case. But they are authorised to conduct raids. The question is, are these raids conducted regularly?” another official said.
In Delhi, authorised sand mining is allowed at two spots — Sonia Vihar and Wazirabad. The latest instance of violation pertains to the Sonia Vihar site. It is learnt that authorities have found that vouchers seized from the site do not have signatures of revenue department officials and the DJB, who are deployed at the spot.
These officials are deployed to keep a check on activities of the licensed companies and to flag irregularities. Vouchers are given, which are supposed to carry their signatures, for every truck that goes out carrying sand.
Last year, the Delhi Development Authority had razed an illegal dam that had come up on the Yamuna riverbed near ITO. Sand mafias, active in the city and the National Capital Region, usually create such obstructions to mine sand illegally, which cause ecological destruction and is a major impediment towards the recharge of groundwater.
On August 28, the Gautam Buddh Nagar administration invoked the National Security Act against illegal sand miners for building a dam on the Yamuna riverbed near Greater Noida’s Tilwada village.