Sand policy will be reviewed: CM assures Congress MLAs

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Belagavi: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is learnt to have told the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Wednesday that sand policy would be amended soon to ensure its adequate supply for construction activities in Karnataka.

The chief minister, who chaired the CLP meeting at Suvarna Soudha, is said to have assured Congress legislators of overhauling the present system of auctioning sand blocks and issuing permits for transporting sand at the district and taluk levels.

District in-charge ministers and local MLAs would be appointed chairpersons of the district and taluk level committees set up to oversee sand mining. The assurance came after a number of legislators raised the issue of short supply of sand for construction activities.

The  legislators are learnt to have said that the district and taluk level committees were ineffective and officials in these panels were “very particular on rules.” They also said that non-availability of sand had led to illegal mining. Local police and officials of Public Works Department were hand in glove with mining mafia at many places.

The chief minister reportedly directed Home Minister K J George to initiate action against police personnel found to have been involved in such irregularities. He also directed Law Minister T B Jayachandra and PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa to hold a meeting with deputy commissioners of all districts on the issue.

The Supreme Court has prohibited using machines for sand mining. Hence there is shortage in supply. The government will try to find a way out to the problem, he is learnt to have said.

It was later the turn of Water Resources Minister M B Patil to face criticism in the CLP meeting. A S Patil (Devarahipparagi) complained that some ministers had threatened him with dire consequences when he requested them to expedite development projects.

“The Congress came to power by taking out a padayatra all the way assuring people of launching irrigation projects. But till now steps have been taken in the last one and half years to fulfil the election promises. Ministers get upset and even threaten of dire consequences whenever they are requested to speed up development projects,” he is said to have told the meeting.

He also urged the chief minister to send all the ministers out of the meeting so that the legislators can air their grievances.

Siddaramaiah, however, declined it, saying that the ministers were part of the CLP and he cannot send them out. He said he would make himself available for the legislators every day to discuss their problems.

Siddaramaiah said he will soon convene a CLP meeting exclusively for re-organisation of gram panchayats and strengthening the Panchayat Raj system.

The Ramesh Kumar committee and the Nanjaiah Math committee set up to make recommendations to the government in this regard have recently submitted their reports. Appropriate amendments will be brought in to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act after eliciting views of the legislators, he added.

Interference alleged
MLA Sharada Mohan Shetty is said to have complained that Higher Education Minister R V Deshpande was interfering with the appointment of block Congress presidents in her constituency. Deshpande is the district in charge minister for Uttara Kannada. Another MLA Shakuntala Shetty had shed tears in the CLP meeting held last week, alleging that Forest Minister Ramanath Rai was meddling with the appointment of block Congress chiefs in her constituency.

Many legislators demanded that the government should empower them to select beneficiaries for Ashraya housing scheme at the gram panchayat level.

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