Illegal sand mining in UpOne of the major menaces in Uttar Pradesh is the way in which the construction companies have been misappropriating sand from the river beds by mining without proper permission. This has happened ever since promoters zoned in on areas such as Greater Noida and Noida. Even though government provides contracts for sand mining, illegal sand mining has exceeded it in terms of quantity. Hundreds of dumpers are used to transport the sand on a regular basis and the industry is worth lakhs of rupees. The obvious question to ask then would be what is the government doing in these circumstances?

Local people are of the opinion that it does not matter which party is in power. The smugglers have always received protection from the locally elected leaders and have been able to carry on their trade without any problem whatsoever. This is where IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal was a major hindrance for the powers running the whole operation. She dared to take them head on and ordered that the dumpers be seized. She also arrested a lot of criminals in the process. Nagpal had also instituted a flying squad to reduce the menace to a significant extent.All these steps revealed the indifferent attitude of the administration and political firmament with regards to controlling the sand mafia.

Suspension of Durga Shakti 

Durga Shakti was suspended by Akhilesh Yadav when she proceeded to demolish a wall/mosque that had been built on government land. It was said that her actions had affected the communal peace in the area in a negative way. It has been said in some circles that all this was the handiwork of the sand mafia, which was miffed at how their operations were being hampered by the young IAS officer. They were just looking for an opportunity to get even and this decision of Nagpal afforded them the chance. It can also be said that in a way this decision revealed the naiveté of Durga Shakti who, in her mind, was clear that she was upholding the law but in the practical domain failed to understand the workings of politics.

The wall in question was located at a village close to Dankaur, Greater Noida. It has been speculated that the wall had a plaque which mentioned that local MLA and Minister Narendra Singh Bhati had laid the mosque’s foundation stone. It has also been said that it was a wall – nobody was really aware of it being a mosque. However, at any rate it is illegal to build a religious structure on government land without permission. Interestingly enough, when Nagpal pointed this out to the locals, they willingly destroyed the wall themselves.

The IAS Association of UP, which happens to be a rather strong entity, had sent a petition at that time to the national government for reinstating Durga Shakti. However, this incident also revealed the divisions within the state’s political circle especially among the relatives of the CM. One of his uncles, Shivpal, had said that Nagpal had to be suspended for creating religious tension. Ram Gopal, another uncle of the CM, had said that the IAS officer should be brought back and an enquiry should be started into the entire issue. Eventually an enquiry was indeed instituted against the contractors who had been appointed by Shivpal Yadav for building the roads at Manipuri and Etawah.