The Bombay High Court has directed the police to use drone surveillance to prevent illegal sand mining in Palghar near Mumbai noting that enough steps were not being taken to curb the menace.
The court has also asked police to set up watchtowers near two railway bridges at Mandvi and Saphale. The measures taken are to be supervised by senior officers of each department.
The order was passed by a division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Manjusha Deshpande while hearing a 2014 PIL filed by Julie Kharbhmi Labharthi Sekhari Sanstha Maryadit seeking curbing of illegal excavation of sand around Julie Island near Vaitrana Creek in Palghar.
In addition, the HC has asked police to confiscate vehicles used for illegal activity. The Western Railway (WR) officials have been directed to report all suspicious activities to local police stations.
Petitioner’s advocate Kranti LC said that earlier HC orders were not complied with and the continuing sand mining was damaging the ecosystem and causing disappearance of the Julie Island.
Tender for installing new CCTV equipment, flood lights, etc. issued
The advocate for the WR said that there were CCTV cameras but the same were damaged by antisocial elements. The advocate said that ₹3 crore tender for installing new CCTV equipment, barricading and flood lights were issued.
The HC, in 2018, had directed the state to form a vigilance committee to monitor compliance of earlier directions. The Vigilance Committee had been directed to use satellite imaging to monitor illegal sand mining, creation of mining and storing sites.
In March this year, the HC had directed placing of tetrapods at fragile locations.
Additional government pleader BV Samant informed the HC that a proposal for expenditure of ₹9.5 crore will be finalised by the Principal secretary.
Repairs of several railway bridges must commence in 2 weeks: Court
The court has also said that repairs of several railway bridges must commence in two weeks and Maritime Board officials to point out where CCTV cameras must be fixed.
The railways have been asked to lodge complaints against those damaging CCTVs and the police has been asked to conduct a probe in the same diligently. In case the FIR is not attended to, the same should be escalated to the superintendent of police, the HC said.
The HC has kept the matter for hearing on November 29.