Mumbai: Illegal mining seen at Alibaug

MUMBAI: Despite a complete ban on sand mining on beaches, illegal mining is continuing at Alibaug, as confirmed by TOI during a visit to the beach on Monday.

Only an hour from the Gateway of India, Alibaug is a weekend getaway for many wealthy Mumbaikars who own farms along the Raigad coast. However, unbeknownst to them, when they are away their properties become ideal storehouses for the illegally mined sand. Local villagers, though aware of the illegal activity, keep mum for fear of being harassed by the mining mafia.

Abbas Jasdanwala, a businessman who owns a bungalow in Mandwa, said the mining has increased. “I go horse riding in the early morning on the beach and I frequently come across JCBs dredging up sand on the beach. This is collected in one spot, then filled in a truck and taken away,’’ he said. Earlier, the sand would be manually dug up and taken away in bullock-carts. Jasdanwala, who has made Alibaug his weekend getaway for 25 years, said the mining has increased tremendously in the past one year.

A favoured site, villagers claimed, is near the bungalow of an industrialist. A mound of sand was there when TOI visited the spot. “Mining happens late at night or in the early morning, when no one is on the beach,’’ said a villager. Villagers said the sand is sold in Pune and locally for construction.

Jasdanwala said the beach was being depleted at such a fast rate that stones are visible on the once smooth beach. The collector’s office is yet to take cognizance of his repeated complaints.

On January 13, activist Sumaira Abdulali, who filed a public interest litigation against sand mining in 2006, said in a written complaint to Raigad collector Subhash Sonawane that sand was being illegally stored on a property in Jhirad that belongs to a Mumbai doctor. Abdulali named three local landowners as the culprits.

Ramesh Surwade, resident deputy collector, Raigad district, admitted receiving complaints from Abdulali and the Bombay Environmental Action Group. “We have registered First Information Reports, seized properties and are taking action whenever it is brought to our notice,’’ he said.

Last month, Sonawane filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court detailing the action being taken by his office to stop sand mining. Surwade said, “We have put a stop to it. Every time there is a complaint we attend to it within 30 minutes.’’

But when TOI visited Mandwa beach, local villagers showed several pits caused by sand dredging and spots where sand had been stored to be later ferried away.

Abdulali said mining is on at the Awas and Nandgaon beaches too. She was brutally attacked when she first protested against sand mining in the area.

From TOI

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One Response to Mumbai: Illegal mining seen at Alibaug

  1. galagali says:

    Thanks for sharing, Hope this helps many! Keep sharing…
    Bungalow in Alibaug

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