A robust surveillance strategy against pilferage and illegal mining of sand resulted in a windfall for East Burdwan as the administration generated a revenue of Rs 117.5 crore in the past nine months, which, multiple sources in the district administration said, was a record of sorts.
“The annual target was to generate Rs 75 crore, but we have surpassed it by 1.4 times in just 9 months and generated Rs 117.5 crore till January 15,” said a senior district official.
Sources said, since the East Burdwan district was carved out of the erstwhile Burdwan in 2017, this fiscal’s revenue collection is the highest. In the 2021-22 financial year, the target of land revenue was Rs 50 crore and the district collected Rs 81 crore.
“In 2021-22, there were 233 active sand blocks operating in this district but now there are only 144 sand blocks in East Burdwan as 109 leases expired and not renewed. So, we collected the revenue from half of last year’s resources,” said an official.
Sources in Calcutta said that the leases of sand blocks that expired had not been renewed so far as the state government has decided to allot the blocks through a centralised auction system.
The record revenue collection is the result of a twin strategy, adopted since earlier this year, of strict surveillance on sand mines and imposition of fines against those involved in pilferage and stocking the mineral illegally, the source added.
As part of a plan to bring an end to illegal sand mining, the district administration formed special teams comprising senior land department officials and police officers from the headquarters, which kept a round-the-clock vigil on sand mines in East Burdwan, which is considered one of the major sources of sand in Bengal.
The officials used drones to monitor excavation and locate illegal stockpiles of sand throughout the river banks.
“We had seized 5.9 crores Cft (cubic foot) of sand that the licensed lessees stockpiled above their mining plan limit. As per law, we imposed a fine of 1.5 times the royalty against the illegal stock of sand and it helped us to collect Rs 32 crore extra revenue. We expect that our collections will be double the target of Rs 75 crore that was set at the beginning of the year,” said Unice Rishin Ismail, the additional district magistrate(land revenue) in East Burdwan.