Specific instructions from chief minister Mamata Banerjee to prevent illegal mining of minor minerals like sand, stone and pebbles from the riverbeds of Darjeeling district and north Bengal as a whole has prompted the Siliguri Metropolitan Police to intensify the drive against such illegal practices.
On Friday, a team of New Jalpaiguri police station conducted a raid in Mahananda river that flows through the city and seized three trucks loaded with sand from Thakur Panchanan Chowk area. Three persons have been arrested in this connection.
“We have been conducting raids against the unauthorised mining of sand, boulders and pebbles from different rivers in and around Siliguri. The drive against those who are extracting such items without proper permission will continue,” said a police officer.
Last Wednesday, Mamata had specifically instructed Gaurav Sharma, the commissioner of Siliguri Metropolitan Police, to prevent such illegal mining.
She had also asked him to take steps against land mafias who are encroaching government and private land and even selling those with forged papers.
She had also referred to an illegal bridge that was made by such land grabbers over the Sahu river that flows through southeast of Siliguri so that they can sell land located on both banks of the river. The bridge was later dismantled by the administration.
“Yesterday, four persons were arrested for installing the bridge. Our officers are working on the case and gathering more information about the quartet,” the officer added.
Such instructions from the chief minister have also made Sharma to realign the police force. On Thursday, 34 police officers working in different ranks were transferred to other places within the commissionerate.
A senior police officer said for the past five-six months, they have been conducting drives against illegal mining.
“Since November last year, 55 cases have been registered for illegally extracting construction materials from river beds. Fifty-eight trucks have been seized and 61 persons have been arrested so far,” he said.
In north Bengal, illegal mining of minor minerals this has always been an issue that has led to mushrooming of illegal syndicates which are allegedly run by a section of ruling party leaders.
Sources said there had been arrests and confiscation of trucks loaded with such minor minerals in a number of north bengal districts over the past couple of weeks.