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Villagers fume over authorities’ inaction against illegal sand quarrying

Accumulated sand mound inside a yard in Govindhapuram, where the villagers are striking against illegal sand mining | Express

VILLUPURAM : Govindhapuram is on the boil and the trigger to their seething discontent over wanton quarrying in the area was provided when a sand-laden lorry rammed into a TNSTC bus, leaving 20 injured on Monday. The restive residents went on a rampage, breaking windshields of three lorries and even attempted to set ablaze the quarry. If the happenings of day-1 were any inkling into the designs of the long-suffering people, day-2 buttressed the point that they mean business.

On Tuesday, the residents blocked the sand-laden lorries after the owners of the sand yard resumed operations.

They demanded to stop mining until officials inspect the yard.

The protesters, however, alleged that the police personnel abused and threatened them during the agitation.

The showdown between the residents and sand yard owners began on Monday after a sand-laden lorry collided head-on with a TNSTC bus, leaving 20 injured.

Later, in the evening, around 100 villagers submitted a petition to Collector Dr L Subramanian, demanding to shut down the yard and action against the sand mafia.

They tied the increasing number of accidents caused by the lorries to the failure on the part of PWD officials to restrict the lorry movement. They also threatened to surrender their ration cards if officials fail to address the issue. The Collector and Villupuram Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) Jeneath Banu held talks with the villagers and assured to conduct an inspection at the sand yard and take action.

Based on the assurance, the villagers were eagerly waiting for inspection since Tuesday morning.

However, no officials came. What came was 20 lorries, on its way to the quarry to load sand.
With anger taking over their initial disappointment, the villagers, mostly women and children, blocked the lorries.

The villagers feel that the increasing number of accidents was because of inexperienced teenage drivers, who are hired by the lorry owners. Sakthivel, a local resident, said, “The lorry owners give liquor as an incentive to drivers, who meet deadline.

Such drivers are encouraged to be tipsy behind the wheels.”
He alleged that the police, PWD and revenue department officials were hand-in-glove with lorry owners and sand mafia.

Another resident, Lalitha (30), whose husband S Kannan was injured in Monday’s accident, said, “My husband is the sole bread-winner in my family.

With him still in hospital, how will I take care of my seven-year-old daughter and two-year-old son?.”

The villagers said that police, led by Villupuram DSP Shankar, on Tuesday assured to restrict lorry movement between 7 pm and 6 am.

“When we demanded a permanent solution by stopping the quarry, the police threatened to foist cases against us and asked to leave the area,” they alleged.

Meanwhile, when Express contacted Villupuram RDO Jeneath Banu, she said, “I have already informed the officials of PWD and mining department about the inspection, We are planning to conduct the checks on Wednesday.”

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