This post originally appeared on http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/mahad-lessons-govt-to-use-drones-boats-to-check-sand-mining-around-two-bridges/article9013855.ece.
[Editor’s Note: Drones and speedboats will be used by the government for patrolling.]
The Mahad bridge collapse has forced the Maharashtra government to take serious note of illegal sand mining around two old bridges at Virar and Saphale.
The State on Saturday decided to extend prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and install CCTV cameras under and around 500 metres of the Vaitarna bridge (bridge no 92) at Virar and another railway bridge at Saphale. The government will also use around a dozen speedboats and drones for patrolling.
At a high-level meeting of officials of the railways, the police, and State chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, it was decided to increase police patrolling around the two bridges and launch awareness programmes in the villages surrounding the bridges, senior officials told The Hindu.
“The prohibitory regulations on sand mining in the river bed are in place, but mining is still being done illegally. We cannot wait for another collapse to occur. Therefore, all possible measures have been announced including extending prohibitory orders under section 144 (CrPC),” said a senior government official.
The Vaitarna bridge is the only connecting bridge between Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and the rest of the north India. It is a frequent route for trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi, August Kranti and Duronto. “A portion of the bridge had collapsed in 2011, and a tragedy was averted due to an alert motorman. We cannot take chances. We have requested the State for a feasibility audit on the two bridges,” said a Western Railway official.