Locals say illegal mining by those who do not hold licence is not uncommon in the region; district administration clarifies that only crushing of stones was allowed
The Shivamogga police, probing the blast that occurred at Hunasodu in Shivamogga taluk, are looking for the source of the explosive and the way it was transported to the crushing unit.
The district administration has clarified that only crushing of stones was allowed in the area and mining was prohibited. Going by the incident, it is clear that owners of the unit were into mining illegally. The mining operation involves blasts, for which explosives are required. They were into the production of M-sand.
A person in the neighbouring area, who is into stone crushing, told The Hindu that crushing units were dependant on the raw materials (boulders) extracted in other areas. “When sufficient raw material is not available, those who had invested huge money to set up the crushing unit, go for mining,” he said.
The technical experts who visited the spot have collected samples to ascertain the actual explosive stocked at the site. However, it is said that it could be ammonium nitrate, normally used in the mining areas.
“Nobody keeps a huge stock of the explosives at the working place, as it is highly risky. There are designated suppliers, who bring the huge stock from a distant place and distribute it to those who need. There are strict guidelines on how to transport them. However, those into illegal trade ignore them. Each unit would stock a small quantity of the material required for a week. Some suppliers claim they bring it from other States. But only they know the truth,” he said.
The local people and some Congress leaders have raised doubts about how explosive material could reach the site, without the knowledge of the police or the other departments. If it were supplied from other States, the vehicle could have passed through many check-posts.
Meanwhile, the police have identified the deceased as Praveen, Manjunath of Antaragange in Bhadravati taluk, Pawan, Javed and Raju of Rayadurga in Andhra Pradesh. The identity of one more person is yet to be ascertained. Their relatives have reached Shivamogga to take the bodies.
It is said the two persons, natives of Bhadravati taluk, had contacts with suppliers of the explosive material. The police are probing from where they brought it.
The Shivamogga Rural police registered a case on Saturday against three people — Sudhakar, who holds the lease of the crushing unit, his associate Narasimha, and Avinash Kulkarni, owner of the land. The three have been arrested. The case has been registered on charges of violating rules as per the Explosives Act, 1884, Explosive Substances Act, 1908, negligent conduct with respect explosive substance (286 of IPC) and culpable homicide not amounting to murder (304 of IPC).