Clashes bring Pernem sand extraction business to a halt

With increasing demand and poor supply of sand for the booming construction activity in the state, there were frequent clashes between sand extractors and also between the extractors and locals on the banks of the river Tiracol, until the illegal activity was stopped recently.

The directorate of mines and geology had recently conducted raids and detained vehicles involved in transportation of the sand. With police and mines department tightening their screws the activity has been presently stopped.

The villages of Korgao and Mopa in Pernem taluka were affected by the clashes .

With the Karnataka government stopping the transportation of sand to Goa, prices of the commodity have risen by about 50% in the past two years.

The competition to extract sand was so fierce that success in the business depended on the muscle power of the businessmen involved and locals talk about labourers being attacked by rival factions many times.

Recently, Krishna Bhatlekar, resident of Korgao in Pernem, alleged that Sandip Bhatlekar, Pradeep Bhatlekar, Sandesh Bhatlaker, all residents of Bhal Khajan Korgao, with their common intention assaulted Rohidas Bhatlekar with iron rods thereby causing grievous injuries to him.

Sources informed Rohidas had gone to the sand extraction site at Bhalkajan where a rival faction attacked him. Rohidas's both legs were badly injured and one of the accused was placed under arrest in this connection under Sections 326 and 427 of IPC.

In another case in mid-September, the sand mining mafia allegedly assaulted activist Raghoba Mahale and others in Pernem. Mahale along with the panchayat body of Mopa-Uguem-Tamboxem had launched a movement against illegal sand mining. Sarpanch Vinayak Mahale along with Raghoba Mahale and two others, had gone in a van during the night to see whether sand extraction was going on. There, they saw that two canoes extracting sand at Jaitir devasthan in Porascadem-Pernem and immediately called the police. When the police reached the spot, the canoes move away.

As soon as police left the spot, around 12 persons ambushed and assaulted them with Mahale suffering injuries on his shoulder. Pernem police booked the offence and arrested the accused, who were later released on bail by the JMFC, Pernem. Since there is no regulatory mechanism for sand extraction, the natural resource is being indiscriminately extracted. The situation is such that if you have money or muscle power you can extract as much sand often unmindful of the fact that excess of it can lead to large-scale environmental degradation. [TOI]