Although the Srikakulam district administration earned praise for saving the lives of 53 labourers stranded in the Vamsadhara river on Monday, the incident has exposed lapses and lack of coordination among the various departments.

The departments concerned are trying to pass the buck ignoring the damage being done to nature by the illegal sand mining. The danger of the river changing course and inundating nearby villages in case of floods has become real. While the Mines and Geology Department says it has limited staff and hence it cannot check illegal mining, the Revenue and Police departments take the line that they are are not the competent authority to impose fines on vehicles which carry sand illegally.

According to them, only the Mines Department has the power to seize vehicles and impose a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh. However, fines are imposed very rarely, thanks to the nexus between contractors and politicians.

According to sources, the government permitted contractors in March to lift 30,000 cubic metres sand from the Purushottamapuram ramp of Sarubujjili mandal. The contractors reportedly did it in two weeks and thereafter continued the activity without any licence. Use of earthmovers in flagrant violation of rules is a common practice. Though sand mining is prohibited completely at night, it is undertaken to meet the heavy demand from the neighbouring Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts.

Collector, SP feted

The State government reportedly directed the district administration to submit a detailed report on the incident. Meanwhile, representatives of various political parties and non-governmental organisations hailed the efforts of district Collector K. Dhananjaya Reddy and Superintendent of Police CM Thrivikrama Varma which led to the rescue of the labourers.

Rotary Club president Natukula Mohan, members Tammana Bhaskar, SS Satyanarayana, Konark Srinivas, and G. Narsu Naidu felicitated the two officials.

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