For past many years, incidents of illegal river sand mining across the country are on the rise. Given its resultant and adverse impact on river system and dependent communities, various state and central governments continue to go through the motions of devising a mechanism for judicious excavation of this minor mineral. But there seems no will to achieve compliance. At the same the time, people and concerned groups affected by illegitimate riverbed mining practices are approaching judiciary seeking legal intervention to curb the unsustainable mining of the natural resource.
In this backdrop, continuing tracking of this issue (like in 2015) SANDRP is providing an overview of various aspects related abstraction of the finite grit material from the rivers through a three part blog series. The first part of the series presents description of the most of the illegal riverbed sand mining incidents that have taken place in different Indian States through the year 2016. The second part of the blog gives account of the measures taken by governments at States and Central level to check the pilferage of this natural resource. The third part will highlight on the legal interventions by respective courts including Honorable Supreme Court (SC) and National Green Tribunal (NGT) to regulate unscientific quarrying of riverbeds.
Above: Narmada at Khalghat Photo: Parineeta Dandekar
“Ahalya, you will be an eternal dry river. Your path will be rocky and parched. You will receive water only when you meet the pious Godavari. That will be your only redemption”.
Thus spoke Sage Gautam, pushing his wife Ahalya into a quagmire of dark desperation for ages. Ironically, it was Indra who, driven by lust, impersonated Sage Gautam and met Ahalya. In some versions of the story Gautam curses Ahalya into a stone slab, in some she becomes uncultivable, barren land. Till date, there exists a marriage custom in certain communities where the newly wed girl touches a dry stone by her feet.. it should remind her of her fate if she “strays” like Ahalya. But that is another story.
In the Western Ghats of Maharashtra where the Godavari rises, there is a tiny river called Ahalya meeting Godavari at the Trimbakeshwar Temple. If women and even Goddesses were made to suffer at the hands of patriarchy, how can rivers, the sacred feminine, be far behind?