Waterman of India Rajendra Singh slams sand mafia
Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent
Rajendra Singh approached PMO seeking probe.
Rajendra Singh, known as the Waterman of India.
Vijayawada: Rajendra Singh, known as the "Waterman of India", approached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking a probe by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), or any other agency of the Central government, into allegations of illegal sand mining in the Krishna and Godavari rivers and the destruction of the environment by the sand mafia.
The BJP has also accused the TD government of playing a role in the illegal sand mining activities across the state. "The sand mafia, in collusion with local politicians, has been looting sand from the Krishna River, the Godavari River, and their tributaries in Andhra Pradesh. Large-scale dredging and mechanical sand mining are taking place on both sides of the Krishna River, very close to the Chief Minister’s official residence near Vijayawada. We personally visited the area during our River Conservation Yatra and were shocked to see such large-scale destruction," said Mr Singh in his complaint.
He said that they had seen tens of large and small dredgers operating without the permission of the MoEF, and thousands of trucks carrying sand for construction works in Amaravati. "We interacted with local people, and they said that the illegal sand mining was taking place with the connivance of local MLAs, MPs and leaders of the ruling party. Since we were opposing the illegal dredging and mechanical sand mining, we were attacked by a local TD leader and his supporters. We saw weapons in their hands. Though we filed a complaint with the DGP, the local police, and the government, and no action has been taken against them," Mr Singh said.
Vikram Soni, an Emeritus Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia and the author of Amaravati: Natural City, said that islands, which were considered important organs of a river, were being destroyed. He added that such actions would wreak havoc on the local ecosystem in the future. "The nature of the rivers has been changed because of the machines digging sand from the river beds. Islands have been damaged and destroyed due to dredging. Pollution has been generated due to the uncovered transportation of sand in thousands of trucks. Black money has been generated, and the government has lost revenue. The mafia attacks farmers and activists who oppose illegal sand mining," said Prof. Soni. He is also one of the complainants who has alerted the PMO to illegal sand mining in the state.
Mr Singh said that the environment was being irreparably damaged and black money was being generated on a large-scale through illegal sand mining. He requested the PMO to order a detailed probe into the issue by agencies such as the MoEF, the Ministry of Mines, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), and the Special Investigating Team (SIT) on Black Money. "We also request you to estimate the loss of revenue and the damage to the rivers caused by illegal sand mining, and take the appropriate action for the recovery and rejuvenation of rivers in Andhra Pradesh," Mr Singh asked the PMO.