Police, greens vow to guard Noyyal river, ship robust message to sand smugglers

COIMBATORE: Vowing to protect , which holds abundant natural wealth right in their backyard, residents of Mathuvarayapuram near on Sunday decided to form a team to check sand smuggling. Police and other government departments will help the villagers in the endeavour.
Stating that rampant sand smuggling had caused environmental degradation in the region, deputy police superintendent said that they wanted to send a strong message to the smugglers. “We have decided to form a beat that will comprise of village officials, revenue officials, police personnel and volunteers. We will go on a patrol every night. Eight spots have been identified where sand is being dug out frequently. We will seize the vehicles and arrest the men involved. We will ensure legal action is taken against them,” he told TOI.

Social activists urged the officers to seize the trucks, donkeys and bullock carts used for sand smuggling. President of the Farmers’ Association Aruchamy said that most often donkeys, two wheelers and bullock carts were involved in the smuggling. “It is very difficult to identify the owners of donkeys as the owners wash their hand of when caught,” he said.

Police and revenue officials assured that whenever animals and two wheelers involved in sand smuggling are seized, they will be auctioned off.

The volunteers visited the spots where sand was smuggled and said they will provide full support to the officials to check smuggling from the area. “People here think since the river flows through their village, they own it and they can plunder it. They do not understand that it is a natural resource and that they need to preserve it. We will set up posters and also name a few people involved in the crime. We will meet the villagers and create awareness as well,” said of Noyyal Paadhugaapu Kuzhu.

The farmers said that the groundwater table had gone down from 200feet to 1,000feet, despite the river flowing through the area. “If we do not take steps today, the river will vanish in a decade,” said a farmer.

The activists said that they will visit the homes of the villagers and create awareness among them.

Various NGOs from Coimbatore city such as Kovai Kulangal Paadhugaapu Amaippu and Osai also took part in the meeting and assured support to the movement. Village administrative officers, tahsildhars, revenue inspectors and police inspectors also participated.

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