Sand-filtering is a booming enterprise in Bangalore, fuelled by the ever-expanding demand of the city's construction industry. As sand supplies run dry, agriculturists turn into miners and sell their soil - a poor substitute to sand - at Rs 10,000 per load.
Now, outlawed sand-mining and soil filtering units have come under the scanner.
Lok Ayukta sleuths recently released footage of illegal sand-filtering units. This was followed by the administration making the necessary sounds, and movement. Last Saturday, a team of revenue, mines and geology, as well as Bescom officials raided more than 20 places in six villages of Devanahalli taluk.
What are the monetary gains of this business? A truckload of sand fetches about Rs 18,000. Approximately 3,000 truckloads are needed in the city, per day. Yet the supply is just 2,000.
Now as soil is being used in construction instead of sand, it will cause buildings to develop cracks and start off seepage problems, warn experts in the field.
In filtering, high pressure water is pumped into sand to remove fine soil. This practice is prevalent in villages in and around Devanahalli. The area has huge tracts of government land and farm land. The miners excavate earth from government land, transport the load to private land with borewell sets, and filter the soil.
According to M A Sadiq, in-charge deputy commissioner (Bangalore Rural), filtering units in Muddunayakanahalli, Karahalli, Tailagere, Meesaganahalli, Mallasandra and Chikkagollahalli have been raided. Three lorries, three tractors, 13 diesel engines, four electrical engines, two dynamos, power cables were seized and three people have been arrested. In addition, Bescom officials have disconnected the power supply to these units, informs Sadiq.
Cases are expected to be filed under three laws - Minor Minerals Act, Land Revenue Act and Indian Penal Code.
The administration has identified 19 villages in Devanahalli taluk where sand-mining and filtering is being conducted. About 154 farmers and miners are involved in the activity, give sources.