Despite a complete ban on sand lifting from the riverbed for three months during the monsoon, some areas in Bankura have been witnessing long lines of sand loaded trucks dispatched from different river points in the district, causing the administration to launch a severe crackdown on the traffickers.

Nineteen truckloads were seized in the crackdown this morning, district officials claimed.

The lorries were overloaded and lacked valid documents for transportation of sand, they said.

The district administration, after a high-level meeting, had imposed a ban on sand lifting from the Damodar and Dwarakeswar riverbeds till 15 October as a measure to protect the riverbanks during the monsoon.

District officials, meanwhile, received information that some of the sand mafia had become hyper-active and started lifting sand on a massive scale.

Today, in the wee hours, the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Bishnupur, Mr Manas Mondal led a crackdown on the sand lifters. The Sub Divisional Land & Land Revenue officer Mr Falguni Satpathy and personnel from the local Bishnupur Police Station accompanied him.

The officials detained 18 trucks and one tractor laden with illegally extracted sand. Seventeen of the trucks, however, had documents indicating that the operators had permission for stocking sand lifted from the riverbed

Mr Satpathy said: “We are yet to examine their papers and our officials will inspect their stocking points to examine whether they were approved or not and then cases will be initiated against them.”

Bankura has a total of 130 sand lifting terminal points on the Damodar, Dwarakeswar and Kansavati riverbeds.

Mr Satpathy said: “Before clamping a complete ban on lifting of sand, the district administration had informed 53 sand lifters to set up essential stock to maintain supply to the end users till October.”

The operators were directed to issue challans against transportation of sand from their stockyards to different locations.

The officials suspect that the operators were cheating by producing forged documents, which had no link with the actual volume of their respective stocks.

The SDM, Mr Manas Mondal, said: “The papers they produced were suspicious and we have instructed the L&LR department to inquire into this.”

The district kicked off auctioning of sand pits on the riverbed in 2016. In the last four years, the auctioning of 130 sand pits helped generate revenue of Rs 198.14 crore, the officials said. Besides, additional revenue of Rs 45.97 lakh could be realised in 2018-19 from transportation fees and cess.