Mumbai: Maharashtra government today said those involved in illegal dredging of sand from rivers and creeks would be booked under the stringent provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act(MCOCA).
Minister of State for Revenue Prakash Solanke assured the Assembly that strict action would be taken in the matter after legislators from Thane district raised the issue of booming illegal sand business in the district as well as elsewhere in the state.
They said the revenue department allowed individuals and companies to dredge sand subject to certain regulations and after paying royalty to the government. However, the sand mafia violated such regulations and there were cases of officials trying to enforce the law being attacked.
Senior member Ganpatrao Deshmukh alleged that the mafia and officials were hand-in-glove and argued that the government should come up with a permanent solution.
At this point, the minister intervened and declared that MCOCA would be invoked against whoever is involved in illegal sand dredging including officials or even police.
MCOCA`s provisions are considered very stringent and it is invoked only in case of a very serious offence.
Meanwhile, in response to demand by Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse for a policy decision on the issue, Speaker Dilip Walse Patil announced that a special debate would be held later this week.