Phansidewa, 25th March: Despite the ban, llegal mining of sand and stones from the Mahananda River bed has been dauntlessly prevailing for a very long time. While the quarrying was earlier done in the dark of night, now, the mafia has been mining in river beds in broad daylight.
It is to recall, three teenagers lost their lives the previous month after sand dune collapsed on them while they were quarrying in the Balasan River of Matigara at night. Recently, a police vehicle was set on fire by the mafia when a team of police launched a campaign during the sand mafia’s quarrying spree near Phansidewa’s Chenga River. Just a day later, reports of illegal mining on the Mahananda River in broad daylight surfaced from the Bhuniakhali area of Phansidewa block.
When the matter came to light, locals gathered and expressed anger. Allegedly, the sand mafia from Uttar (North) Dinajpur district is entering Darjeeling district and stealing sand from the Mahananda river. Due to the extraction of sand, the lands near the riverbanks are being destroyed and the groundwater is also drying up. The residents further alleged that the Darjeeling district police keep vigil in the riverbanks, unlike the police in Uttar (North) Dinajpur.
Reportedly, the local people were attacked by the sand mafia when they started protesting against the incident, on Saturday. When a team from the Bidhannagar Investigation Center of Darjeeling district reached the spot, the sand smugglers fled from the spot.