Govt agencies lack teeth to take on sand mafia in UP

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NOIDA: The enforcement agencies, including the mining department, that control illegal sand mining in UP confront the mafia regularly, but they do not have teeth. Officials claim the government has not equipped them with the resources to protect themselves and deal with the well-armed mafia.

It’s not just the mining mafia that holds sway in the state. The scrap mafia also functions with impunity. The fact that senior officials are not provided with even a service revolver shows the lack of government will to rein in these unruly elements.

“The mafia has a free run in Uttar Pradesh. Like everyone else, we have a family to look after. We can’t just have a run-in with the mafia,” said a senior government official, who narrowly escaped two shooting bids by the mafia. The case of a mafia member fleeing with a loaded dumper from Surajpur collectorate, Greater Noida, during daytime points to the brazenness with which these elements operate. The tractor was seized from the Lakhnawali village and stationed by the district administration on the premises of the collectorate. “Four unidentified persons arrived in a white Hyundai Santro—registration number UP 16—and started roaming around the dumper,” said a senior official.

“We have stopped putting our lives in danger as the government’s attitude raises doubts about its concern for its staff. The government seems to embolden the mafia by not supplying us arms,” said a mining department official, who carries a personal weapon.

On April 19, the public works and irrigation minister Shivpal Yadav had directed officials in Gautam Budh Nagar to clear the land of all encroachments. On a visit to Noida, Yadav met the DM and the SSP and stressed the need to act against encroachers. Yadav also promised to equip the force with weapons to tackle the mafia.

Officials of the special mining squad, including then SDM Vishal Singh, had a close shave after the mafia fired at them a few months ago in Maujabad area of Greater Noida. Nearly 4,000 acres of the floodplains have been occupied illegally—much of it is very close to the river’s course.


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