Sand diggers of Belle river - Their life and economy.......

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Report and Pictures by Eugene Moodubelle

Moodubelle, 18 January 2010: During the months from December to May, a period of around six months, when one passes through the bridge connecting Moodubelle with Padubelle on his way either to Shirva or Katapadi can see some kind activity on the Padubelle edge of the river just below the head of the bridge. Sometimes one can witness the sand laden boats being brought to the side of the rocky bank where the contents from the boat being emptied on the heap of sand.

On my way back home at around 11 AM after clicking some pictures from Pajaka Kshetra in Padubelle, the birth place of Shri Madhvacharya, founder of the Ashta Matthas and the famous Shri Krishna Temple at Udupi, i happened to notice four sand diggers emptying the sand content from three boats and one boat painted in black lying nearby upside down. Curiosity to know about the life and economy of these sand diggers, i just went back from the bridge and took the narrow road that led to the spot where the sand was being dumped. When i opened a conversation with the four sand diggers who were dumping the sand, they were suspicious about who i was and were hesitant to talk to me. When i assured them that i was not from any government department or agency, they agreed to open conversation with me.

The sand dredging contract in the Belle River has been acquired by a person named Ranjan Salian from Katapadi who has the necessary license from the government authorities. There are five sand diggers from Yenegudde Katapadi who collect the sand from the river banks somewhere away from the spot and transport it by boats to the dumping place near the west end of the bridge on the river bank. Today only four of them were at work as the fifth person had not reported to work. These four persons were emptying the sand with the help of the buckets, the same buckets that they use to dredge the sand from the river beds.

When asked about the amount of money that they get for one boat-load of sand, they answered that while larger boats fetch Rs. 75, for the smaller boat the contractor pays only Rs. 40. As the sand from the river bed closer to the dumping place has already been exploited, they are required sometimes to move down-stream as far as two to three kilometres to dig  sand and transport it to this spot. As the water level is still high due to the unseasonal rain in the recent past, they can afford to dig only two boat-loads of sand per day, thus earning Rs.150 in larger boats and Rs. 80 in smaller boats. They have to complete the sand digging and ferrying work by noon and rush to their home for their lunch as it would not be economical to have meals in hotels.

When the water level goes down these sand diggers claim that they can double their earnings  as it would take lesser time to fill the boats with sand and ferry it to the dumping spot from where the sand  is transported to construction sites in Udupi and other places.

If these sand diggers have to hire boats they are required to pay around Rs. 30 per day as rent for smaller boat and Rs.50 for the larger ones. Owning a boat costs from around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 for which  they have to take loan from private money lenders or banks. According to these sand diggers, there are two more spots where sand digging activity has been carried on, one up-stream at Pamboor and the other down-stream at Kurkal.

As i was completing my conversation with the sand diggers of the Belle River, it started raining which was not at all welcomed by them as it hampered with their sand digging activity. While some continued emptying the sand, one of them started emptying the seeped in and rain water from his boat. When the rain stopped, i waved them goodbye and took some more pictures of them from the bridge and continued my journey home pondering over what all people do for their living, but is it enough for them and their family?

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Comments on this Article
Louis Alva, Kattingeri / Dubai Wed, January-20-2010, 2:05
Dear Dr. Eugene and Mr. Anil … you both are doing a great job on the web world of bellevision. All of your pictures and reports of each events are very informative and truly live … !! You both made us to feel like we at home, even though we are little away from our beloved Moodubelle. We all thanking you both for your Sincere and hard work towards Moodubelle and bellevision. Full marks for hardwork and keep it up…!!! Also Sharon, you are most welcome to Moodubelle at any time, because now you have already many friends from belle ,and also you are already a active member of bellevision in UAE.
Victor D’almeida, Moodubelle/Bahrain Tue, January-19-2010, 9:35
Thanks Mr.Eugene for you noticed and appreciated those who doing the hard labour for their living near the river edge. God bless you for your good work.
Francis Noronha, Moodubelle/Mumbai Tue, January-19-2010, 3:40
Dear Sharon you must visit Mooduble and see the one of the beautiful place in Udupi. People who are living here are very loving and helpful. I am sure you will make up your mind to settle down here.
Ronald Sabi, Moodubelle Tue, January-19-2010, 3:07
Fantastic pictures....and the greens...
Sharon Rego, Kulshekar/Dubai Tue, January-19-2010, 2:22
I think I need to seriously plan visiting Moodubelle. Dr. Eugene’s articles are so tempting and has finally made me comment. Thank you Dr. Eugene. You "complete" this website!
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