Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Jaleswar, Feb 25:
The state government on Tuesday morning went ahead with a demolition drive along the Subarnarekha riverbed in which the West Bengal sand mafia were engaged in illegal quarrying on Odisha territory.
The district administration officials in the presence of district collector, seven senior police personnel and two platoons police force uprooted the illegal encroachments and demolished the illegal quarries. The special operation was launched after Additional Chief Secretary Dr Taradatt had instructed the Baleswar district collector Sanatan Mallick through a written communiqué to drive out the sand mafia from carrying out illegal operations on Odisha territory.
The operation continued for six hours—from 8 am till 2 pm on Tuesday—in the bordering villages under Raibania police station limits of Jaleswar tehsil in Baleswar district.
The drive started from Dakshin Praharajpur and as many as eight illegal sand quarries were demolished.
However, the demolition drive was protested by West Bengal authorities during the noon following which tension prevailed for a brief period. The police personnel of Dantun police station reached the spot and raised objections against the Odisha government action.
There has been over 50-year border dispute between Odisha-West Bengal over sand mafia encroaching almost half a kilometre into Odisha territory.
Intensifying their illegal activities, the sand mafia had erected red flags in Odisha territory for demarcation claiming it to be on their side. On February 14, Odisha officials had cracked down on illegal sand quarrying in which three persons were arrested and a truck was seized. Besides, the officials had also uprooted the red flags. In protest against the official action, the West Bengal sand mafia became vindictive and had intruded into Odisha territory and went ahead with the rampant illegal mining.
Following this, tension prevailed in the bordering villages of Behera Sahi, Munatunia, Totapada, kuanrpur, Mankadia, Olamara and Rajnagar in Odisha.