The Telegraph
Monday , May 12 , 2014
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Hi-tech tab on quarry raid teams

The illegal stone quarrying mafia has gone hi-tech in the state.

Different groups involved in illegal quarrying in the Rohtas-Kaimur region have formed separate teams of 50 youngsters to keep tabs on the movement of officials assigned to curb unauthorised mining.

The members of the group have been provided with cellphones having latest technology and motorcycles.

They mostly roam about the offices and the residential premises of the district magistrate, superintendent of police, sub-divisional officers and the forest and environment department officials.

Like the employees of big business houses, the members of the group are paid a monthly remuneration of Rs10,000 each besides bonus depending on the kind of information they provide to the leaders of their team. They also get Rs 2,000 as cellphone and fuel allowances on a monthly basis. They work in two shifts and each group has five to 10 members. The area of the group has been demarcated by the team leaders, who randomly assess the performance of their subordinates. In no case do they encroach upon or interfere in each other’s affairs. Violation of the instruction in any form by any member of the group would lead to payment of heavy penalty.

Rohtas district magistrate Sandeep Kumar R. Pudakalkatti has promised the DFO to provide both logistic and technical support to the raiding teams to carry out intensive raids. “The district administration is committed to curb illegal mining and all measures are being taken to accomplish the task,” he said.

The fact that such a group was active in the Shahabad region came to the fore during an in-depth investigation conducted by a team of senior forest and environment department officials, who were surprised over repeated failure of the department’s raiding teams assigned to check illegal stone quarrying.

On most of the occasions, the information about the movement of the raiding teams was leaked to the mafia and the latter got alert. As a result, the raiding teams had to return empty handed.

To their utter surprise, a raiding team had to bear the brunt of the mafia, who intercepted their vehicle and set it on fire at Gobibigha village in Rohtas district in May last year.

Rohtas divisional forest officer Amit Kumar wrote a letter to the forest and environment department secretary last week giving details about the activities of the illegal quarrying mafia active in the Rohtas-Kaimur region.

The officials, however, expressed surprise over the strong network of quarrying mafia. “It seems that illegal stone quarrying has taken the shape of an organised crime,” a senior police officer said.