This Article is From Mar 04, 2012

Sonbhadra tragedy: A special report on illegal mining

Sonbhadra: After four policemen were suspended for negligence in duty in connection with the illegal mining case, which claimed ten lives in the Sonbhadra district, the police in a shocking statement now say that the elections in Uttar Pradesh took away all their attention and they had little time to look at possible illegal mining in the area.

"Our main focus was on elections in the last 2 months  and we were more worried about peaceful elections in naxal affected areas and definitely we were not able to concentrate on other things," Mohit Agrawal, Sonbhadra's Superintendent of Police said.  

But activists say that the illegal mining has been going on for long time now. According to the locals, such incidents have occurred here in the past, in which labourers working in the mines have lost their lives. But, they allege that those cases rarely come to light due to the strong nexus between the administration and the mine-owners.

Illegal mining is rampant in this region that's undeveloped and also is Maoist-affected. And to add to the misery, mandatory safety measures are never followed.

"Before carrying out a blast at a stone quarry, it's a rule that an engineer should come and check. But, here children and labourers carry out the blasts. There is no safety measure that is followed here," revealed Mahendra Yadav, an RTI Activist

For now, 10 officials including the four policemen have been suspended and a magisterial probe has been ordered. But that's little comfort for those who lost their relatives to a tragedy that could have been avoided.