April 17, 2018
Invisible support from power quarters for sand smugglers?
In a strange twist of event, the lawbreaker was let off by the upholders of law, while the whistle blowers were punished. A group of activists who tried their best to stop sand smuggling in the Noyyal were booked under theft case by city police. Amazed? But that’s how the smuggling has been going on for years according to many news reports; the smugglers are plundering the river sand right under the nose of the police. The activists, who are college students and youth wing members of PMK tracked the truck with sand from Alandurai village and followed it till Avinashi Road only to be arrested under the charge of theft because apparently the driver was manhandled and an attempt to steal his phone was made.
There is no denying that smuggling in the Noyyal has impacted the environment of the villages around Alandurai. Villagers have complained of further dipping of the groundwater level and flooding during monsoons. This has only added to the distress that the farmers are going through. The only way to instill fear in the locals indulging in this criminal act is to book them under Goondas Act, but for the police going after the activists.
“We tracked the car, raised slogans and wanted the police to convict the driver, who was let off. We demanded the district administration to prevent the blunder, which didn’t happen. The police is with the smugglers, or else how can it happen so blatantly,” says Ashok Srinithi, state deputy secretary of the PMK youth wing. He adds, “We have photographic and video proof that sand is being smuggled from the Noyyal river bed. When we intercepted the truck, the driver apologised to us and accepted that it was river sand. But after the police arrived, he started claiming it was M sand. One look at the sand and anyone can prove it that it is not M sand. And we have proven that it isn’t M sand.”
Throwing light on the nexus, he blames the easy access to the riverbed and support from the police as the main reason behind turning the Alandurai-Karunya-Madhuvarayapuram-Perur-Thondamuthur belt a hotspot for sand smuggling. “There are 5 main culprits. Smugglers are making almost Rs 60 Lakh to 1 crore a year, so to let them off with a meagre Rs 5000 is being one with them.” Echoing similar thoughts, R Manikandan from Kovai Kulangal Paadhukappu Amaippu says, “Politicians are involved. To stop this, public cooperation is needed. The smugglers are luring the villagers from the nearby farm by giving out money, to keep their mouth shut. The smugglers should be punished severely under Goondas Act. Imposing meagre fine isn’t enough.”