In an attempt to control illegal mining, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday launched a toll-free number to register complaints or irregularities around illegal mining, sand hoarding, pricing, and smuggling. Reddy launched the toll-free number 14500, to which complaints can be registered that will attract disciplinary action. According to the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) release, Andhra Pradesh faced a loss of Rs 300-400 Crores to the exchequer due to smuggling and sand being given away freely. The state government made 2.4 Lakh tonnes of sand available on Monday for booking against less than a quarter of daily demand, to address how false scarcity was created by the opposition.
After the launch on Monday, Chief Minister Reddy dialled the number 14500 and gave his suggestions to the Call Centre. In addition to launching the toll-free number, the Chief Minister has asked to implement 439 checkpoints, equipped with two high-end cameras for surveillance at night, 118 mobile patrols, 3,200 ex-servicemen being deployed for stronger supervision across five borders. This will be applied by December 2019 to ensure that illegal sand smuggled to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai is completely ceased. Andhra government has issued orders for taking stringent actions against those who violate the sand policy. Those who hoard, resell, or transport sand illegally, such actions would attract a fine of Rs 2 Lakhs and imprisonment for upto two years.
"A toll-free number should be set up where any complaints on irregularities in the sale of sand should be immediately attended to. Vigilance wing should be strengthened to check smuggling and CCTV cameras should be set up at all the reaches," Reddy was quoted as saying.
According to the new sand policy, consumers should log in to register their names on the website. The sand can be booked online and the amount can be paid online or via MeeSeva centres, and can choose the stock point nearer to their location on the website itself. Reddy is taking structural and systematic actions to set right the damage caused to the state.
One of the government officials said that the launch of this toll-free number contributes to the progressive sand policy. He also said that it is one of the several steps taken by the government to curb corruption, and bring about a systematic change. The current sand policy makes it available at Rs 375 per tonne at government-owned stockyards operated by Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC).