Senior Superintendent of Police, Negombo, Jagath Keenawinna, who was warned by the Supreme Court last week (14) that he would face charges for contempt of Court, unless he takes steps to halt illegal sand mining on Maha Oya River banks, yesterday told The Island that enforcement of law was influenced by the miners backed by powerful politicians and some corrupt police top brass.
`Some sand miners work hand in glove with some OICs in the area. A large number of police officers are bribed by them and this hinders the enforcement of the law and sand mining goes on unabated on the banks of Maha Oya,` SSP Keenawinna said.
He added that IGP Chandra Fernando and Western Province DIG S. C. Komalawitana had instructed him to take stern action to prevent the massive environmental degradation but he could not do so because of the illegal sand mining cartels.
Following the Court warning, the only action police could take was to seize 12 lorries and take a few persons into custody, he said.
The Supreme Court last Monday (14) SSP Keenawinna, that he would be charged with contempt of Court by March 28, unless he forthwith took steps to halt the illegal sand mining.
A posse of policemen who raided the sand mining sites had reported back that sand miners had managed to escape leaving behind lorries and back hoes, he said.
The Environment Foundation Limited had filed a motion in the Supreme Court stating that despite an undertaking given to the Court, by the SSPs of Negombo and Chilaw, to stop this kind of illegal operations, no steps had been taken to prohibit this activity.
Huge machines are being used to mine sand and the entire area could become a saline wetland. The motion filed by the Environmental Foundation Limited will be called before the Supreme Court, again on March 28, 2005.