Residents in Polonnaruwa have complained to the environmental authorities that the brother of a powerful Minister in the area backed by a paramilitary group is engaged in illegal sand mining along the Mahaweli Ganga close to the Manampitiya Bridge.
They say that the politician`s brother is carrying out large-scale sand mining using backhoes.
`This person resorts to thuggery to keep the small-scale sand miners away,` another resident said. The affected sand miners have already taken up the matter with the relevant authorities.
The issue was taken up at the Polonnaruwa District Development Committee (DDC) meeting held on July 13, in the presence of the leading area politician concerned.
JVP MP S.K. Subasinghe who also participated in the meeting said yesterday that he found fault with the Minister`s brother.
Mr. Subasinghe said this illegal sand-mining was being done in the Mahaweli Ganga about one kilometre away from the Manampitiya Bridge.
`People are reluctant to lodge complaints with the police fearing reprisals from the leading politician. This sand mining mafia is well organized. Through my experience I have found that I cannot visit the sand mining sites without the mafia getting the information ahead of my visit. They have a very efficient spy system,` he said. He said the DDC had decided to refer the case to the environmental authorities and the Wildlife Department for further action.
When contacted by the Daily Mirror, an official of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau which overlooks sand mining said, on condition of anonymity, that there were certain complaints against illegal sand mining activities by this politician`s brother.
The official, however, said they had not received solid evidence to prove this information.`If we receive complaints with evidence, we will take necessary action,` he said.