Friday, August 8, 2014

Illegal Quarry and Crushing Units Seized; BJP Block Road Protesting

Illegal Quarry and Crushing Units Seized; BJP Block Road Protesting

We have Evidence of Illegal Quarrying: DC

Stone Crushing Units and Quarries found operating illegally in South Andaman District were seized by the Deputy Commissioner South Andaman after conducting raids. The units along with eight trucks and three excavators were seized in two different raids conducted by a team led by the Sub Divisional Magistrate on 28th July and 1st Aug. 2014.

While two trucks were fined under Mines & Minerals Act and released after production of the Transit Permit, the remaining vehicles are still under the custody of the Dy. Commissioner.  

The raids were initiated by the Dy. Commissioner South Andaman after complaints were received regarding the illegal operation. The seizure has led to much hue & cry among the community involved in the business, which is backed by Bharatiya Janata Party now.

Protesting the action taken by the Deputy Commissioner South Andaman, the BJP functionaries along with the effected party, led by Deepak Jha, State BJP General Secretary today blocked the road in front of DC Office, demanding release of the seized property.

“These people have Patta Lands in their names. They had parked their vehicles in their own land, which is cannot be illegal”, said Deepak Jha, General Secretary. “Their vehicles were seized without any intimation. The Dy. Commissioner has no right to do so”, he added.

Jha further said that the affected party have patta lands where crushing unit were in operation. But these units have not been functioning for months yet case was made against them for illegal operation.

“Even if it is illegal operation, why should someone run around for days together to get their seized vehicles released? Fine can be imposed and their vehicles released. There is no point in holding their vehicles”, Jha concluded.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner South Andaman, Mr. Jawahar IAS cleared that all the vehicles and excavators that have been seized were from the site where illegal quarry and crushing were found in operation. “We have evidence”, he said.

Jawahar said that intensive campaign was launched by the Sub Divisional Magistrate and team for a week after complaints were received from various quarters of the civil society. It was later decided in a meeting to crackdown on these illegal operations.

“After ascertaining the facts and gathering evidences, the sites along with 3 Excavators and 8 Trucks were seized where illegal quarry and crushing units were in operation. Among the 8 Trucks seized, the drivers of two trucks were found not in possession of the ‘Transit Permit’ issued by the DC Office, although the Permit was issued to them. They were fined under the Mines & Minerals Act, which amounts to double the market price of the product and later released”, Jawahar added.

‘Transit Permits are issued by the Deputy Commissioner’s Office to transport quarry products, which is valid for one day. It is also mandatory for the drivers of the vehicles to carry the permit while transporting these products. This is in accordance to the Mines & Minerals Act”, Jawahar said.

Jawahar also mentioned that there are two groups involved in illegal quarry and stone crushing operations. “We used to catch them but it was in a sporadic manner”, he said.

The DC, South Andaman added by stating that he is awaiting detailed reports after which stern action will be taken according to the Law.

By curbing the illegal quarry operations, DC South Andaman has shown courage to touch a sensitive nerve and taken the nexus head on, which surely is going to create ripples.

The quarry operators is a strong and powerful lobby having both political and financial clout. It cannot be discounted that it will take things lying down. However, the villagers can finally heave a collective sigh of relief with the stern action by DC. 

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