Dams · Sand Mining

Riverbed Mining 2017 -II- States Look To Centre, Centre Dilutes Norms

In the first part we see, how under business as usual scenario, incidences of illegal riverbed mining going on unabated across the country. Reports suggest that Uttar Pardesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Goa have emerged leading states affected by illegal sand mining.

In 2017, countless reports have exposed politicians-officials-mafia nexus responsible behind mindless plundering of scarce natural resource in open violations of norms. Similarly, throughout the year, there have been several violent attacks on villagers, activists, government officials by sand mafia. In a whole more than 26 people are killed in incidences involving illegal extraction of sand.

In this detailed second part, SANDRP presents account of various measures taken by different State Governments and Central Government to check the unsustainable riverbed mining practices. The third and concluding part would cover legal interventions initiated by respective Judicial bodies to reign in the unsustainable, unlawful sand mining activities across India.

Illegal Riverbed Mining: A State Wise Look At Violent Incidents & Human Deaths In 2017

No. Violent Incidents Month Rivers Districts/States Death
1 Sand mafia tried to mow down Solapur DM January   Sholapur

Maharashtra

 
2 Attack on 2 NBA activists January Narmada Badwani

Madhya Pradsh

 
3 6 villagers injured in mining dispute with Nepal February Oriya Khola West Champaran

Bihar

 
4 1 Forest Guard killed, 2 beaten March Ramganga, Nainital

Uttarakhand

1
5 Attack on Forest Guards March Kosi, Baur Nainital

Uttarakhand

 
6 Lady official attacked, 1 injured March Sangai Hoshangabad

Madhya Pradesh

 
7 Reporter being harassed March Beach Mining Coastal Districts

Tamil Nadu

 
8 Fatal attack on DSP April Gomati, Shahjahanpur

Uttar Pradesh

 
9 14 villagers killed, 15 injured April Swarnmukhi Chittoor

Andhra Pradesh

14
10 3 killed over sand mining dispute May Danro Garhwa

Jharkhand

3
11 Reporter beaten with iron rods May Godavari Godavari

Andhra Pradesh

 
12 2 kids found dead mysteriously June Ghaghra Bahraich

Uttar Pradesh

2
13 2 deaths, 18 injuries in a month August Manair Sircilla

Telangana

2
14 Tehsildar held hostage, SDM vehicle damaged October Ken Panna

Madhya Pradesh

 
15 CPCB inspection obstructed November Ganga Haridwar

Uttarakhand

 
16 Violent clash between villagers and contractor December Tiracol Pernem

Goa

 
17 3 labourers buried alive in sand mining pit December Kosi US Nagar

 Uttarakhand

3
18 Reporters covering illegal mining attacked December Ken Panna

Madhya Pradesh

 
19 Stuck in RJD protest, woman patient died December Ganga Patna

Bihar

1
Total death in illegal sand mining related incidences     26

 NORTH INDIA

UTTAR PRADESH Administrative Actions  2 sand filled trucks caught in Greater Noida Under operation ‘dhar-pakad’ (raid and seize), the Greater Noida police seized two tractors that were being used to carry sand mined illegally from Yamuna banks in Kambakshpur village on Feb.04. Police also filed a case against the owners of the tractors. However, the police were unable to catch the tractor drivers, who fled into the nearby forests. http://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/two-trucks-filled-with-sand-caught-in-greater-noida/story-FPOCvvAU54eiqJmAJjVt8L.html (January 2017)

The operation was conducted following a WhatsApp complaint filed by a youth.
The operation was conducted following a WhatsApp complaint filed by a youth. (Image Source: HT)

The Gautam Budh Nagar district administration and the police, in a joint operation on Feb. 24, arrested 11 persons on charges of illegally mining sand from the Yamuna floodplains in Murshadpur, Jaganpur and Atta Gujran village areas. The joint operation was conducted following a WhatsApp complaint filed by a youth. NGT on Nov 2, 2015, banned mining on the Yamuna in the district. To enforce the ban, the district administration is conducting meetings with villagers seeking their support in stopping the illegal activity. After such meetings many young boys in villages on the banks of the Yamuna are helping authorities in catching illegal sand miners. They are using messaging service WhatsApp to communicate with officials. Very interesting village youths are using Social Media technology to curb illegal sand mining. http://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/greater-noida-11-held-for-illegally-mining-sand-from-the-yamuna-floodplains/story-FCl6jMMiWccQur6DpZoXXM.html (Feb 2017)

Twelve trucks laden with sand were seized and the drivers arrested during a drive against illegal mining on the Yamuna riverbed in Shamli district by sub-divisional magistrate M P Singh team from Titli and Ahmad Ghar. Seven trucks were seized from Titli and five from Ahmad Ghar. The drivers were later released on bail. The drive was carried out after the state Government issued direction to the authorities to check illegal mining on the Yamuna riverbed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/illegal-sand-mining-12-trucks-seized-drivers-arrested/articleshow/57851679.cms (March 2017)

Irrigation department has registered an FIR against a sand mining firm SN Constructions for trying to create a makeshift bridge over the Yamuna to extract sand. The bridge was stopping the flow of the river. Officials from the administration conducted searches as part of the ongoing drive against illegal mining on the orders of the CM to take strict action in such cases.

The searches took place at mining sites in Tilwada, Aurangabad and Kondli. None of the police personnel who took part in the search belonged to the area police stations. The searches were kept a secret from the local police and other officials of the area because there was information that people running these mines work closely with local policemen.

It is mandatory for sand mining companies to install CCTV cameras at the site but none of the three places had any. After a gap of around four years, the district administration had allotted contracts for sand mining in the Yamuna floodplains to three private agencies in May. Nardan Infra Developers got a mining site for Rs 459 per cubic metre in Kondli Khadar, while Jatin Buildtech Private Limited got a licence for Rs 257 per cubic metre in Aurangabad village and SN Construction Company for Rs 484 per cubic metre in Tilwada village. http://www.hindustantimes.com/noida/noida-fir-against-mining-firms-for-illegal-bridge-over-yamuna/story-dZwvQ5QH4QvR8sK6XXNMsL.html (December 2017)

In another case, 4 people were arrested from Yamuna embankment area for allegedly being engaged in illegal mining, officials said on Dec 12. SDM (Jewar) Rajpal Singh along with other officials and the police conducted a raid in Jhuppa area and found several men engaged in illegal mining. The police managed to arrest four, while the others fled. District Magistrate B N Singh had directed officials to take action against mining mafias. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/four-arrested-for-illegal-mining-in-up-117121200044_1.html (December 2017)

Mining department to issue notices to firms linked to sand mafia  As part of the crackdown on mining mafia dominating the illegal sand excavation from Yamuna banks in Saharanpur and neighbouring areas, the mining department has decided to issue showcause notice to 109 individuals or firms associated with former BSP MLC Mohd Iqbal, a mining baron from Saharanpur. The firms and individuals would be blacklisted and barred from participating in the bidding process.

Iqbal came under spotlight in 2015 when a PIL was filed against him in SC. It alleged that Iqbal had amassed assets, properties and wealth amounting to over Rs 10,000 crore through illegal means. Thereafter probes by CBI, ED, CBDT and SFIO revealed several irregularities thereby pressing for thorough inquiry against Iqbal. In the initial investigation, agencies found transactions of close to Rs 1,400 crore by firms and shell companies associated with Iqbal and his associates. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/mining-department-to-issue-notices-to-firms-linked-to-sand-mafia/articleshow/62217051.cms (December 2017)

Government Intervention Government identifies 200 sites for auction after resolution of court cases More than 200 sites have been identified in state for auction process after numerous cases related to sand mining pending before High courts (HC) and the Supreme Court (SC) were resolved, the state Government has informed the Centre. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/uttar-pradesh-identifies-200-sites-for-auction-after-resolution-of-court-cases-4735832/ (July 2017)

PUNJAB Administrative Actions 3 illegal sand mining cases in Punjab daily Apart from pollution Punjab’s river basins are also being systematically depleted by the sand mafia who continue to mine it without fear. According to one estimate more than three cases of illegal mining are being registered in the state daily.

Documents prepared by Punjab’s mining wing show that 5,549 criminal cases of illegal mining have been reported between 2013 and 2017. This translates into roughly 92 FIRs every month across Sutlej, Beas and Ravi river basins. The Punjab Police is yet to submit chalans in 2,277 cases in various courts.

The documents also reveal that 8,904 vehicles were seized while ferrying illegally mined sand. Tractor trolleys were the most commonly used transport. Around 5,400 such trolleys were caught while 414 JCB machines and 1,353 trucks were seized during the four-year period.

To make matters worse, Punjab has had just one geologist and no mining inspector, operating from the dilapidated mining headquarters in Chandigarh for the past decade. The sanctioned number of inspectors is 32.

Punjab, which until recently had 300 legally-run quarries, saw additional 56 mines becoming operational 24 hours before CM Amarinder Singh summoned his department officials to frame a new policy for e-bidding.

Environmentalists believe that the illegal sand trade in Punjab has led to dire consequences in the past five years: Both urban and rural housing has becoming unaffordable for the common man while construction firms as well as retailers have seen massive losses because of the high sand price. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/3-illegal-sand-mining-cases-in-punjab-daily/articleshow/58332949.cms (April 2017)

 

5 booked for illegal sand mining in Sangrur village The police on March 25, 2017 booked five people for illegal mining at Moonak and seized two tractors and a JBC machine from the spot. All the accused, along with one unidentified person, have been booked under 379 (punishment for theft) and the Minerals Act 1957 at Moonak police station. Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Amar Partap Singh Virk has formed special teams and directed all sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) and deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) to work jointly with these teams to check on illegal mining in the district. http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/five-booked-for-illegal-sand-mining-in-sangrur-village/story-Q6xWGeuI89jQEo10qGNcIK.html (March 2017)

Equipment seized at one of the sand quarries in Ferozepur on Wednesday.(HT Photo).jpg
Equipment seized at one of the sand quarries in Ferozepur (HT Photo)

Notices to 120 violators in Ferozepur for illegally mining sand Taking cognizance of  a The Hindustan Times report highlighting the rampant illegal mining in this border district, the state mining authorities and the local administration issued notices in more than 120 cases, with violators liable to pay a penalty of more than Rs 80 lakh. As per report, 10 poke-lane machines worth Rs 6 crore, a number of JCBs and tractor-trailers were also seized besides registering more than 30 police cases for illegal sand mining. However, no action has been taken or ordered against mining officials, without whose involvement illegal mining could not take place.

The report quoted villagers saying that unchecked sand mafia has a direct political patronage. Not only their relatives or close aides, but PSOs (personal security officers) are also actively involved in reaping the ‘cash crop’ of sand round the clock. According to construction contractor, majority of sand quarries are bearing a deserted look, with the price of a sand truck increasing from Rs 11,000 to Rs 18,000. As per Govt, to meet the demand of sand, 17 more quarries in district will be auctioned.  http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/illegal-sand-mining-notices-to-120-violators-in-ferozepur/story-8RvAHcPJVKaJtxVpp8ybeI.html (August 2017)

Inquiry on into illegal mining at Moga village Acting on the news report,  “In Moga, drug mafia takes to sand mining” which was published in these columns on December 2the Rural Development and Panchayat Department has begun investigations into illegal sand mining on panchayat land at Daulewala village in the Dharamkot sub-division of the district.

This village, which was also known as the “drug hub of Punjab”, has of late fallen prey to the mining mafia. The youths, who were previously involved in smuggling and illegal sale of drugs, had now allegedly turned to illegal mining on the village common land and a few private properties in connivance with the village panchayat. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/inquiry-on-into-illegal-mining-at-moga-village/518583.html (December 2017)

Government Intervention As sand prices rise, CM orders legal mining In view of the spike in prices of sand and gravel following a crackdown on illegal mining across state, CM Captain Amarinder Singh on April 02, 2017 ordered legal mining operations over the next few days. The concerned officials informed the CM that 59 mines were ready for auction, with the department already having issued their 15-day auction notice. Another 58 mines, whose environmental clearance is currently pending, are likely to be auctioned within 60 days thereafter, and will become operational by mid- August. The CM also directed the officials that a new transparent mining policy should be formulated within 30 days and asked them to submit its draft for a further review. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/illegal-sand-mining-as-sand-prices-rise-captain-amarinder-singh-orders-legal-mining-4595899/ (April 2017)

Government tweaked auction rules before minister’s ex-cook got sand mine Four days before the e-auction of sand mines in Punjab, in which a former employee of Minister for Power and Irrigation Rana Gurjit Singh bagged a Rs 26 crore contract, the Government changed the rules of the auction to keep the names of the bidders secret. The sand mine contract to Amit Bahadur, who was a cook with Rana Gurjit’s firm Rana Sugars, has triggered demands by opposition parties for the minister’s resignation. Rana Gurjit has sought to distance himself from Bahadur saying that he left his employment in February this year. Non transparency in sand mining bid seems like an attempt to hide corruption.  http://indianexpress.com/article/india/punjab-tweaked-auction-rules-before-ministers-ex-cook-got-sand-mine-4678498/ (May 2017)

The state Government expected to make Rs 500-600 crore from the sand mining business this year. Last year the revenue was Rs 35 crore as the previous Government had opted for a system of reverse bidding, in which the lowest bidder gets the mine. This time, the new Government adopted a system of progressive bidding, giving the contract to the highest bidder. The Government put on e-auction 97 sand and gravel quarries on May 19 and 20, and going by the high bids announced, it would net Rs 1,026 crore. But when it came to putting down the money, contractors deposited the security amount for only 50 mines. Still the Government was able to make Rs 310 crore from the auction. The rest of the mines will be re-auctioned on June 11. The article gives some useful stats about Punjab sand mining. http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/mining-punjab-for-sand-demand-2-crore-tonnes-a-year-business-rs-3000-crore-4683382/ (June 2017)  

Government Inaction No action on Justice Narang commission report It has been 4 months since Justice (retd) J S Narang commission recommended cancellation of two controversial sand mines linked to Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh’s former employees and close aides. The commission also recommended action against certain officers of mining department for procedural anomalies. The commission had found that both the bidders Amit Bahadur and Kulwinder Pal had blatantly violated the rules governing participation in the auction. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/sand-mines-auction-row-four-months-on-justice-narang-commission-report-gathers-dust-4969781/ (December 2017)

As per this news story, after getting Justice Narang commission’s report, the chief secretary had further constituted a committee comprising additional chief secretary for home N S Kalsi, finance secretary Anirudh Tewari and secretary for industries R K Verma. But there has been no further development thereafter. The Congress Government had kept commission’s report under wraps till the leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira acquired it under the RTI Act in October first week.

Justice Narang commission had given clean chit to the minister despite the minister having accepted before the commission that he had called up the director of mines department to inquire about eauction process “as some of his persons had inquired from him”. However, Justice Narang had recommended that these two mining bids should be cancelled and re-auction should be done. The commission had also submitted that there has not been any revenue loss to the state exchequer as highest bids were given by Amit and Kulvinder. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/sand-mines-auction-cs-yet-to-submit-his-comments/articleshow/62030730.cms (December 2017)

HIMACHAL PRADESH Administrative Actions 10 JCB machines, 7 tippers seized Taking action against illegal mining in Chaki river on the Punjab-Himachal border in Nurpur sub division, the Kangra Police confiscated 10 JCB machines and 7 tippers. Cases under Mine and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act 1957 of Himachal have been registered against those involved in illegal mining.

Chaki river had been infamous for illegal mining. About 200 stone crushers of Himachal and an equal number in Punjab region were operating in Chaki rover. The rampant illegal mining has destroyed the ecology of the river. There was no aquatic life left in the river and its bed at places the riverbed had gone down by about 20 to 30 feet.

Illegal mining continues at the Punjab-Himachal border in Nurpur subdivision. Tribune photo
Illegal mining continues at the Punjab-Himachal border in Nurpur subdivision. Tribune photo

Many Government departments including the IPH, PWD, Indian Air Force and the Railways have been writing to both Himachal and Punjab government that their infrastructure was getting damaged due to illegal mining in Chaki river. The road bridge connecting Kangra district of Himachal with Pathankot district of Himachal and a railway bridge were earlier damaged allegedly due to illegal mining in Chaki river. The state Government in the recent past also established the office of mining officer in Nurpur area to control illegal mining. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/governance/10-jcb-machines-7-tippers-seized/345952.html (January 2017)

In July 2017 Kangra police decided to book the owners of JCB and other heavy moving machines caught while engaged in illegal mining operations saying that the drivers were just tools in illegal mining and the real culprits were the owners of machines. The police had seized 10 trucks and tippers for overloading of mined materials. The overloaded trucks and tippers are damaging roads and also causing accidents in the district.

Law enforcing authorities said that the weak Mines and Mineral Act was not acting as a deterrent for the people involved in illegal mining. As per provisions of the Act the police had to release impounded JCBs and tipper after imposing a maximum fine of Rs 25,000. This amount was peanuts for the people involved in the trade. The Kangra police had also written to the state Government that illegal mining should be made a cognizable offence and vehicles impounded should be released only through the court of law as in the case of Forest Act cases. The request of district police is yet to be accepted by the state government. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/jcb-machines-engaged-in-illegal-mining-seized/430771.html (July 2017)

UTTARAKHAND Administrative Actions  New squad formed to check illegal quarrying in Ganga In the same month, to reign in the illegal mining, Krishan Kumar VK, the senior superintendent of police of Haridwar, set up a special anti-quarrying squad. The squad, comprising dozen-odd police personnel from Haridwar and Roorkee, will be headed by inspector Surya Bhushan Negi. Concerned people ask, who will check police-mafia nexus? http://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/new-squad-to-check-illegal-quarrying-in-haridwar/story-vYPJtEr040leX6OGqOSwrN.html (Nov 2017)

Following the Uttarakhand HC order, mining work has come to a halt in rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Gaula, Kosi, Dabka, and Kali and nearly 100 seasonal rivers and rivulets apart from fo
Mining in Ganga River HT Photo 

Stone crusher owner booked for obstructing CPCB inspection team The Pathri police has registered a case against Gaurav Aggarwal, owner of Ganesh Stone Crusher in Katarpur and 103 villagers and unknown people for stopping the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) team and members of the Matra Sadan Ashram from inspecting the impact of stone quarrying in the area. http://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/stone-crusher-owner-others-in-uttarakhand-booked-for-obstructing-cpcb-inspection-team/story-pHYPyPqFJ6eRC8zJxiQFdN.html (November 2017)

JAMMU & KASHMIR Administrative Actions 4 tippers seized for illegal mining Geology and Mining team on May 09, 2017, has seized four tippers for illegal mining in river Tawi. As per the directions of the J&K High Court, all the mining and minor mineral activities in river Tawi in Jammu area have been banned.  However some vehicles were still operating in the river during odd hours. So far about 50 vehicles including ten excavators/ JCBs and some tippers and tractor trolleys have been seized by the G&M department following HC orders. As per officials, the action will continue and seized vehicles will be released after the directions of the HC. http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/4-tippers-seized-illegal-mining/ (May 2017)

EAST INDIA

BIHAR Scenario Sand mining, mostly illegal, is rampant at various places along the bank of the Ganga, including Maner, Danapur, Digha, Alamganj and several ghats in Patna City like Kali Ghat, Damriyahi Ghat and Mahavir Ghat. Illegal sand mining has lately started at the sandbar in the Ganga behind Patna University as well. Hundreds of tractors laden with sand dug from the banks as well as the main course of the Ganga from such places provide daily supply for the construction sector in and around Patna. The sand mining at these places is at times done at night hours and under the supervision of henchmen of ganglords. Local miners are excavating the sand even from the middle of the river using country made boats and buckets. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/dig-shalin-to-probe-irregularities-in-sand-mining-leases/articleshow/57226306.cms

The crackdown in Rohtas, Kaimur, Aurangabad and Gaya districts of Bihar has led to confiscation of over 780 trucks carrying illegally mined stone chips and sand (HT File Photo)
The crackdown in Rohtas, Kaimur, Aurangabad and Gaya districts of Bihar has led to confiscation of over 780 trucks carrying illegally mined stone chips and sand (HT File Photo)

Administrative Action 14 top officials face action over involvement in illegal mining Fourteen SHOs and four DSPs were in the firing line of the police higher authorities, for their alleged involvement in illegal stone quarrying/sand mining and transportation that has robbed Bihar of huge sums of money in revenue. A crackdown on the quarrying/mining mafia in Rohtas, Kaimur, Aurangabad and Gaya districts, has led to confiscation of over 780 trucks carrying illegally mined stone chips and sand, and recovery of Rs 2.5 crore as fine, in the last seven days. According to sources, the racket has been running with the alleged connivance of police and officials in the mining, forests, transport and commercial taxes departments. http://www.hindustantimes.com/patna/illegal-bihar-mining-14-shos-4-dsps-in-firing-line/story-jmwzk010T1XkiCMoxh2ixM.html (January 2017)

On Feb. 12, 2017, Bhagalpur SSP Manoj Kumar suspended two SHOs for their failure to check illegal mining under their respective jurisdictions. A police team led by DSP (law and order) conducted a joint raid along with mining officials on Feb. 10, 2017 and seized several sand-laden trucks, tractors, mechanised excavators and JCBs from dry riverbeds under Jagdishpur and Sajour police station areas. http://www.hindustantimes.com/patna/illegal-bihar-mining-14-shos-4-dsps-in-firing-line/story-jmwzk010T1XkiCMoxh2ixM.html  (Feb 2017)

The police clampdown on illegal sand mining is affecting supply of sand for construction work in Patna. As per mining law, mining on the riverbed is prohibited during monsoon, from July 1 to September 30, but many illegal sand quarries operate in Maner and Bihta areas. Also, labourers are allowed to dig just 3m for mining sand, but many a time they dig 8-10m underground, inviting hazards for the riverbed. During inspection of various ghats on the Ganga, Patna central range DIG Rajesh Kumar spotted huge quantities of sand near the river bed at an area spread over half a kilometre and suspended Khajekala police station house officer Rakesh Bhaskar for not taking action against the illegal sand mafia operating in his area. https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170808/jsp/bihar/story_166059.jsp (August 2017)

Government Intervention Government proposes new sand and stone mining rules As per state mines and geology minister Vinod Kumar Singh the Government would form new rules to sale sand and stone chips through licensed retail outlets from Dec 1 as the unregulated business yielded only Rs100 crore to the Government against Rs10,000 crore going to the kitty of those engaged in the business. Calling the new rules “impractical” and anti-small businessmen and farmers, opposition says that the Patna high court on Nov 27 has stayed the implementation of the new rules. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/sand-and-chips-to-be-sold-under-new-rules-minister/articleshow/61839472.cms (December 2017)

 New corporation to take over ‘mafia-ruled’ sand trade The Bihar government is setting up a new corporation, to replace the existing Bihar state mineral development corporation (BSMDC), in existence since 1972, to regulate the sale of sand and other minerals in the state. To be called Bihar minerals corporation, the new body is likely to be registered in a day or two. The BSMDC will be dissolved.

The move is part of the provisions contained in the proposed Bihar minor mineral rules, 2017, to facilitate complete takeover of the wholesale trading business of sand and other minerals, by the state government.

Once the new rules are implemented, the involvement of mafia in illegal mining of sand, rampant till recently, is expected to be significantly restricted, as the government will do wholesale trading of minerals with retailers across the state.

The process of cancelling the existing mining leases in Bihar, which were valid for five-year period ending December 31, 2019, has also got underway, with the district magistrates concerned issuing notices to all the 25 license holders for not adhering to environmental guidelines/ laid down tender provisions and mining beyond the approved area and time. http://www.hindustantimes.com/patna/new-corporation-to-take-over-hitherto-mafia-ruled-sand-trade-in-bihar/story-NvPR1L3LQPG9ximRGyhOxH.html (November 2017)

High Court Stays Mining Rules The division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyay of the Patna high court on Nov 27, 2017 stayed the execution of Bihar Minor Mineral Rules, 2017 introduced by the state Government after JD(U) and BJP joined hands on July 27 this year. The bench was hearing a bunch of writ petitions filed by Pushpa Kumari and others. The petitioners had challenged the new rules and claimed that these were not in accordance with the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The new rules were introduced after the state govt’s crackdown on illegal sand mining within three days of forming the new government. Several RJD functionaries had been accused of being involved in illegal sand mining in the state. (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/hc-stays-new-mineral-rules/articleshow/61824334.cms, November 28, 2017)

Terming the sand mining policy as faulty RJD the main opposition has announced to launch protest against it. They alleged that mining policy has resulted into rate of sand rising from Rs 2500 per tractor earlier to Rs 5000-Rs 10,000 per tractor. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/rjd-to-protest-bihar-govt-s-sand-mining-policy/510738.html (December 2017)

RJD calls for Bihar bandh over sand mining The RJD has called for a statewide bandh on December 21 to protest against the sand mining policy of the state government.

As per an assessment, sand mining is a highly profitable business, and the estimated turnover ranges between Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000  crores annually. However, reports suggest that the state government have been earning only around Rs 500 crore out of it.

The issue of illegal sand mining in the state was first raised by deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi in August. He has been alleging that the senior RJD leaders have close links with people associated with the mining mafia in Bihar. http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/211217/rjd-calls-for-bihar-bandh-over-sand-mining.html (December 2017)

A woman patient Somari Devi died on her way from Mahnar near Hajipur to Patna when her ambulance was stuck in the chakka jam enforced by the bandh supporters on Mahatma Gandhi Setu against the Nitish Kumar government’s new sand mining policy.Onlookers said her relatives pleaded with the protesters and police to make way for the ambulance, but none could help them. The 65-year-old died in the ambulance even as the RJD denied that the bandh led to the woman’s death. Another ambulance carrying one of the men injured in the sugar mill blast at Gopalganj was also stuck in the snarl on the Gandhi setu. However, police managed to clear the jam for it. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/woman-dies-as-rjd-bandh-cripples-life/articleshow/62198707.cms (December 2017)

ODISHA Government Intervention Government signed JV for Rs 450-cr sand mining project 2 State-owned firms- the Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha Ltd and the Indian Rare Earths Ltd inked a joint venture agreement to explore beach sand minerals.  The JV has been approved by the Niti Aayog and the state govt. The pre-feasibility report prepared by IDCOL envisages raw sand processing of five million tonnes per annum. http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/jv-signed-for-rs-450-cr-sand-mining-project-in-odisha-117112900985_1.html

JHARKHAND Administrative Actions DC orders actions against sand mining On Dec 21, Deputy Commissioner Dr Neha Arora gave several instructions to mining officials regarding illegal lifting and transportation of sand. The DC asked immediate stop illegal mining and storage of sand. She also instructed not to allow JCB machine and Poclain machine in sand extraction and storage stock yard. She also instructed to fix the scheduled time for mining and storage of sand  from 6 am to 6 pm. District Mining Officer VK Ojha said that due to non compliance of rule of sand mining an incident in Jatpura village had occurred. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/ranchi/dc-fiat-on-sand-mining-transportation.html

NORTH EAST

ASSAM Government Intervention MP asks Forest Department to allow illegal sand mining Rameshwar Teli, BJP MP from Dibrugarh constituency, apparently wrote a letter to the Divisional Forest Officer of Digboi, directing him to allow illegal sand mining in Ushapur area under Digboi forest division in Tinsukia district. The issue has caused much furore in Upper Assam division as protests and dharnas are being organised by various organisations demanding Teli’s resignation. The Government has, however, decided to stay mum on the subject. BJP leaders and ministers refused to speak on the subject. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/bjp-mp-illegal-sand-mining-assam-dibrugarh-digboi-dfo-rameshwar-teli-congress/1/856169.html (January 2017)

Jorhat BJP slammed Forest Dept over illegal sand mining Another BJP district unit slammed the Forest Department for reportedly allowing a sand-mining racket to operate on the Bhogdoi river bed under Mariani range of the department within Jorhat district near the famous Hollongapara Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary, which is named after the Gibbon ape, has several endangered species of primates, apart from a wide range of birds, elephants, deer, leopards, snakes and insects.

The BJP’s Jorhat district unit president Santanu Pujari, targeted the Forest Department for turning a blind eye to complaints lodged by local people about illegal sand mining on the Bhogdoi river bed near the wildlife sanctuary. Pujari said, while suspecting a strong well-oiled nexus between a section of forest staff and officials with the racket, said carrying out such illegal activity was not only a crime, but was a big environmental threat to one and all. He said as per a court directive, the Government has prohibited sand mining on the Bhogdoi river bed where the racket was operating.

The ruling party leader alleged that as per information received by the party unit from the area, the illegal mining was taking place at Katanibari area. He said that the Jorhat unit of BJP has submitted a memorandum to Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Virendra Mittal mentioning about the illegal sand mining activity.

Pujari informed that a memorandum had also been submitted to the DC seeking a probe by a group of experts into the dredging work carried out in Mudoijan stream of Teok river under Teok Assembly constituency with funds worth Rs 4.33 crores under the 2011-12 State Budget as there were a lot of complaints against the quality of work executed. Additionally, the dredging had absolutely no impact on mitigation of floods.  http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=aug0917/state051 (August 2017)

MANIPUR Administrative Actions Forest Dept bans sand mining in Thoubal River Observing severe impact of sand mining on Thoubal River as well as its environment, forest department officials put immediate ban on the sand mining as well as excavation at hills of the surroundings. The dept has also ordered ban on transportation of red sand in Thoubal and Kakching district with immediate effect.  http://kanglaonline.com/2017/11/dfo-thoubal-swings-into-action-bans-sand-mining-at-thoubal-river/ (Nov 2017)

WEST INDIA

MAHARASHTRA Administrative Actions Act against illegal sand mining in Raigad After environment NGO Awaaz Foundation said that sand was being illegally mined from creeks and rivers in Raigad district, the Konkan divisional commissioners’ office said that they were preparing an action plan with the help of district collectors to stop it. It has also alleged that about 25 trees have been uprooted by alleged mechanical dredging at Nandgaon beach, located 130 km south of Mumbai city.

In 2014, the NGT had banned sand mining in coastal regions in many states, including Maharashtra, saying that it was damaging natural ecosystems. In 2016, the ban was lifted in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Thane, after the state Government promised the NGT that it will ensure that the mining does not damage the environment. However, various court orders, including the Bombay high court, Supreme Court, and a Coastal Regulation Zones notification prohibit sand mining.

In 2016 extensive sand mining between Kihim and Awas beach, north of Alibaug had led to drastic changes in topography of the area that led to 70% decline in sand at these beaches. The mechanical dredging work had led to soil erosion, uprooting of more than 15 trees and a drop of nearly 10 feet in the level of the beach. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-government-to-act-against-illegal-sand-mining-in-raigad/story-sdYSn6XBjRqNsj64ttK6XL.html; http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/illegal-sand-mining-uprooted-25-trees-at-nandgaon-beach-says-ngo/story-mnfv59Qx8tr3wvGMYcOn7O.html  (February 2017)

GODAVARI RIVER 4 JCBs, 70 trucks seized after raids on Sironcha mines After revelations of massive illegal sand-mining on Godavari bed at Sironcha in Gadchiroli district, the district authorities and the local police carried out raids on Feb. 11, seizing four earth-movers and about 70 trucks involved in the illegal operation.

The 3 mines were among 9 leases granted in Sep 2016 to various contractors in what was being seen as the biggest sand mining business going on anywhere in the state. While the 10th mine was yet to be auctioned, the total area being plundered for mine comes to 45 hectares, mostly in the Godavari bed. One of the mines, however, was in the adjoining Pranhita river. As per report, rules were being flouted with impunity at all the mines. As against the stipulation of only manual extraction, the entire mining was being done using JCBs. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/illegal-sand-mining-on-godavari-bed-four-jcbs-70-trucks-seized-after-raids-on-sironcha-mines-4521602/ (11 February 2017)

On February 7, The Indian Express highlighted illegal sand mining on
On February 7, The Indian Express highlighted illegal sand mining on

Show cause notices to 6 sand mines in Sironcha The Gadchiroli administration issued show cause notices to 6 sand mines in Sironcha asking why their leases should not be cancelled in the wake of the violations that have come to fore during the raids on Feb. 11.  The raids were conducted jointly by Revenue and police officials following media reports. Meanwhile, CCTV cameras have been installed at the spot to check illicit activities. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/showcause-notices-to-6-sand-mines-in-sironcha-4533723/ (20 February 2017)

Contractor of mine arrested, gets bail On March 06, 2017, the Gadchiroli police made the first big arrest in connection with the illegal sand mining on Godavari riverbed, nabbing Venkatesh Yanganti, contractor of the Wadadham site. Yanganti was produced before an Aheri court that granted him bail. The police already arrested 27 truck drivers two days ago for their alleged involvement in illegally transporting sand from Wadadham and Nagaram mines. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/city-others/illegal-sand-mining-contractor-of-mine-arrested-gets-bail/ (06 March 2017)

Leases of 5 sand mines cancelled in Gadchiroli Over a month after The Indian Express exposed violations in sand-mining operations on the beds of the Godavari and Pranhita rivers in Sironcha in Gadchiroli district, the district administration has finally cancelled the leases of five of the 10 sand mines. Additional Collector Mahesh Awhad took the decision to cancel the leases after studying the responses of the six lease owners to the show cause notices issued to them. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/maharashtra-leases-of-five-sand-mines-cancelled-in-gadchiroli-4564483/ (11 March 2017)

1,500 cases of illegal mining registered in Pune district During March 2016 to March 2017, Pune district has registered 1,500 cases of illegal sand mining and illegal sand quarrying, the highest in the division as well as second highest in the district in the last five years. District mining officials said that they were able to register maximum number of cases because of increased checks and use of GPS technology in Daund, Indapur and Shirur talukas in the district. The overall revenue collected as penalty was Rs 8 crore till mid-March. In terms of revenue collection, the district has collected Rs 130 crore as against the target of Rs 175 crore till mid-March. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/1500-cases-of-illegal-sand-mining-registered-in-pune-district/articleshow/57677023.cms (March 2017)

Criminials held with firearms for sand mafia Two persons, including a criminal on the police records, were arrested on Dec 20 and four country-made pistols as well as 10 live cartridges were recovered from them — the second major haul of country-made firearms by the Pune Rural police in the past 10 days. The probe revealed that Rajendra Rathod (32), currently residing at Wagholi, and his accomplice, Dhondibhau Jadhav (25) of Ahmednagar district, were preparing to sell the arms to people involved in illegal sand business in Daund and Shirur taluka. The accused were trying to sell the firearms to a sand mafia in the district.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/four-pistols-seized-from-criminal-his-accomplice/articleshow/62200690.cms (December 2017)

Government Intervention State Government mulls mining NOC to counter sand theft Pune guardian minister Girish Bapat decided to send a proposal to the urban development department to make “mining no objection certificate regarding use of minor minerals'” compulsory for real estate developers before a building completion certificate is issued to them. Local bodies such as Pune Municipal Corporation, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation or the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority would have to ensure that the developer has sought a no objection certificate for use of sand.

The work will be executed under the District Mineral Foundation that was established under the directions of the central and state Government regulation. The district has 267 mining sites and the committee has given approval for project works worth Rs 310 crore to be executed under different schemes. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/state-govt-mulls-mining-noc-to-counter-sand-theft/articleshow/61921787.cms (December 2017)

Government Report Illegal sand mining responsible for damaged of Palghar bridge The public works department in Palghar has said that illegal sand mining by sand mafia from Vasai,Virar, Navi Mumbai and Thane is what caused cracks in the bridge over Vaitarna river in Palghar. The bridge was constructed in 1988 to link tribal hamlets in the area and was shut down for heavy vehicles in Dec 2014, after it developed cracks in its foundation. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/illegal-sand-mining-is-to-blame-for-damaged-palghar-bridge/story-Na5OJZ0ygMzw2tFHldZm5H.html (Nov 2017)

Despite this, environmentalists have raised red flags about illegal sand mining close to the railway bridge near Juinagar railway station. The activists have been reiterating that if the authorities don’t take steps to stop illegal sand mining then it may even damage the foundation of the bridge. The Maharashtra Minor Minerals Extraction (Development and Regulations) Rules, 2013, has also clearly stated that no mining activity can be carried out near bridges and embankments for the purpose of infrastructural safety. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/rampant-sand-mining-will-weaken-juinagar-bridge/articleshow/62199379.cms (December 2017)

MADHYA PRADESH Administrative Actions Crackdown on illegal mining, 440 vehicles seized In a massive crackdown against illegal sand mining the Chhatarpur district administration on Feb. 7 confiscated 440 tractor trollies carrying illegally mined sand in Ken river Bundelkhand area.   https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/bhopal-crackdown-on-illegal-sand-mining-440-vehicles-seized/articleshow/57026968.cms (February 2017)

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Panna admin cracks whip on mining mafia, seizes 200 trucks In one of the biggest action against mining mafia, more than 200 trucks were seized by the administration in Panna on Feb 24-25. In all more than 300 trucks were seized in a campaign against the mafia in the last one month. However, truck operators alleged that even the trucks operating legally were also seized. The trucks were confiscated from different parts of the district bordering Uttar Pradesh. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/panna-admn-cracks-whip-on-mining-mafia-seizes-200-trucks/articleshow/57337081.cms  (February 2017)

Administration cracks the whip on officers colluding with illegal sand miners In a major crackdown against collusion between police personnel and sand mafia, the Sidhi police has taken action against nearly 50 police personnel by either suspending them, instituting departmental inquiry against them or removing them from service in the last two months. In one instance, the entire police outpost in Piparohar comprising 16 personnel, headed by a sub-inspector was changed, when the higher-ups found that the entire outpost was involved in abetting illegal sand mining. http://www.hindustantimes.com/bhopal/madhya-pradesh-cracks-the-whip-on-officers-colluding-with-illegal-sand-miners/story-73d72SJeYTUbbldgwCZz2H.html (December 2017) 

NARMADA Government Interventions CM bans sand mining in river Narmada Following large number complaints filed with the central bench of NGT by various social organisations and individuals against illegal mining of sand from the river bed across the state, the State Government on May 22, 2017 announced to impose a total ban on sand mining in river Narmada across the state. The Government also put a check on the excavation of sand through machines from other rivers in the state. The Government also planned to form a committee under the supervision of state industries minister Rajendra Shukla and experts from IIT Kharagpur to decide next mode of action. The ban continued till Sept 30 and was lifted from Oct 1 with Government hinting at a new sand mining policy soon. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/shivraj-singh-chouhan-bans-sand-mining-in-river-narmada-use-of-machines-in-other-rivers-also-banned/articleshow/58791742.cms (May 2017)

Government brings new sand mining policy The state Government on Nov 13, tabled before the state cabinet a new ‘sand mining and sale policy 2017’, to excavate sand from rivers barring Narmada. The draft of the new policy allowed use of machines to excavate sand from the river bed after environment clearance. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/cabinet-nod-to-new-sand-mining-policy-in-mp-on-the-cards/articleshow/61632838.cms (Nov 2017)

There are a total 1,266 sand mines in the state, of which 445 have been auctioned. The new policy would be implemented in the remaining 821 mines. In 2016-17, the state earned Rs 240 crore royalty from sand mining which in 2017-18 is expected to fall to Rs 200 crore.

According to news report, the sand mining and sale policy 2017′, is reportedly prepared with recommendations from IIT Kharagpur experts.  Experts from IIT Kharagpur are studying effect of sand mining on rivers in the state.

It seems Government has allowed open loot of sand in the name of common man as being unfamiliar with digital technology they would not be able to go through the online processes.  There seems no concern shown for rivers which have already been ravaged by illegal mining. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/madhya-pradesh-govt-opens-sand-mines-for-all/articleshow/61648255.cms (November 2017)

GUJARAT Scenario Sand forms 25% of the total minerals produced from Gujarat. It’s value is 10 % of the total royalty earned annually by the state Government from minerals. There are about 1,200 legal sand mines in Gujarat that are located mostly on riverbeds. The total quantum of sand mined from every year is about 5.6 crore tonnes. However, 25,900 illegal mining cases have been registered in Gujarat in the last four years. The instances of illegal sand mining constitute 10-12%. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/to-curb-illegal-sand-mining-govt-opts-for-drones-4810960/ (Aug 2017)

Government Intervention Government to hire drones to check illegal sand mining In an attempt to crack down on illegal sand mafia operating in and around the river beds of Sabarmati, Orsang, Tapi and Narmada, the Gujarat govt, for the first time, will be hiring drones to monitor the 60-km Sabarmati riverbed between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad where illegal sand mining is rampant. The state Government is also considering introduction of “manufactured sand” as an alternate to natural sand. This will be manufactured from basaltic rock waste, also known as black trap. The Government is also considering producing sand from dredging operations in ports and harbours and also using slag from steel plants. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/to-curb-illegal-sand-mining-govt-opts-for-drones-4810960/ (August 2017)

It is worth to mention that, in an order passed on Dec 21, the HC Gujarat has observed, “Illegal mining in the state of Gujarat, more particularly, the riverbed mining is at a rampage. Such indiscriminate and illegal riverbed mining has created a lot of ecological imbalance.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/illegal-riverbed-mining-rampant-in-gujarat-hc/articleshow/62186305.cms (December 2017)

GOA Administrative Actions 6 canoes seized, 3 held for illegal sand mining Six canoes were seized, while three labourers involved in sand extraction, were arrested in a joint raid conducted in Chapora river at Colvale under Goa Minor Mineral Concession Rules Act. Other labourers, on seeing the team, jumped into the river and fled. The raid was done by Mapusa police, officials from mines department. All canoes involved in the extraction activity had valid licences, but the raid was conducted since the ban on sand extraction has been enforced following the NGT order. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/6-canoes-seized-3-held-for-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/57545084.cms (March 2017)

Similarly, a joint raid conducted by the directorate of mines, captain of ports, water resources department, Ponda SDM and Ponda police on illegal sand extraction belt in Ponda taluka has seized about 310 CuM sand stacked along the Betki riverside. The total worth of seized sand is estimated to be Rs 3 lakh.

The state Government has been allowing local residents to extract sand from the rivers in their area after following some procedures in place. The licenses are renewable every year and the people engaged in the sand extraction trade have already been applied for renewal and their applications are in process. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/mines-dept-raids-sand-extraction-sites-in-ponda/articleshow/61760688.cms (Nov 2017)

RAJASTHAN State to allocate 3000 mines by March 31 As Mines Minister Surendra Pal Singh, around 3000 minor mineral mines and 8 blocks of major minerals would be allocated by March 31, 2018 to generate revenue and employment. The state mines department had also initiated e-auction of minor mineral mines for the first time after amending the mineral policy in February this year. He further said that the department was identifying around 1000 new minor mineral blocks to be allocated through e-auction and around 1650 mines, for which letter of intent (LoI) was issued, would be cleared by February next year.

The state mines department has initiated e-auction of minor mineral mines for the first time after amending the mineral policy in February this year.
The state mines department has initiated e-auction of minor mineral mines for the first time after amending the mineral policy in February this year.(DEEP MUKHERJEE/HT PHOTO)

The new blocks would fetch over Rs 40,000 crore revenue,” a mines department official told HT on condition of anonymity. Around 70% of state mining revenue comes from major minerals.” Auctioning of two major mineral mines in Nagaur and Chittorgarh districts in January will generate Rs 10,500 crore revenue, the official said. A notice has been issued to invite bids for 180 new minor mineral mines — mason stone, marble, granite, and sandstone, among others. “This is the first time minor mineral mines are e-auctioned and people are showing keen interest; around 70 applications have been received,” the official said. http://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/state-to-allocate-3000-mines-by-march-31/story-0PM3UG7eTKlnkOuHMP6oZN.html (The Hindustan Times, 25 September 2017)

Delay in land acquisition has stalled mining projects worth Rs 41,000 cr The government had hailed the summit for bringing in much needed private investment.Industry players, however, said that hurdles remain, especially land acquisition, as stringent rules under the Land Acquisition Act 2013 make it a tough proposition. Among the big-ticket investors were Ambuja Cement, Jindal Saw, Reliance Cement, Steel Authority of India Ltd., Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd and Ultratech Cement. Now, many of the proposals have been put on hold or entirely dropped because of delay in land acquisition, as land is either charagah (pasture) or forest land. (http://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/mining-projects-worth-rs-41-000-crore-stalled-over-land-acquisition/story-7JLpaWLxnvjEXhFsLMVMVI.html The Hindustan Times 29 October 2017)

SOUTH INDIA

KARNATAKA Administrative Actions Sand mining rampant in Dakshina Kannada: Ayukta police The Lokayukta Police submitted a report about the existence of illegal sand mining in Dakshina Kannada district. As per the report, there are about 39 places of illegal sand mining and sand collection places in Bantwal, Belthangady and Mangaluru Taluks. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/081217/sand-mining-rampant-in-dakshina-kannada-ayukta-police.html (Dec 2017)

16 cases booked daily in Karnataka If the figures are any indication, illegal sand mining business continues to thrive. On an average, Department of Mines and Geology officials registered 16 cases related to sand mafia daily in Karnataka in the last two years.

12,318 cases were booked during 2015-16 and 2016-17 in connection with illegal sand mining, transportation, storage and use of filter sands. During the period, 5,515 FIRs were filed and a sum of Rs 20.26 crore was collected from various offenders. A senior department official said these are just the tip of the iceberg.

“On every single extra lorry of filtered sand, they make a profit of Rs 80,000, if they carry about 50 tonnes of sand. They shell out only Rs 10,000 per lorry, including the bribe. One can only imagine the amount of money illegal sand miners would be making in a month,” the official added. The Deputy Commissioner has the power to levy penalty up to Rs 1 lakh. “That amount is pittance for them,” the official said. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2017/apr/04/illegal-sand-mining–16-cases-booked-daily-in-karnataka-1589598.html

Government Intervention Government to formulate separate coastal sand mining policy On March, 06, 2017, after hearing a Dakshina Kannada leader delegation led by state environment minister, CM Siddaramaiah reportedly agreed to formulate a separate sand mining policy for the coastal districts of the state. Impressing on the CM about differences prevalent in sand mining practiced in the coast and other parts of Karnataka, the minister told that the coastal areas were facing repeated problems on account of sand mining and its supply and  administration was facing pressure from the common man. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/karnataka-cm-agrees-to-formulate-separate-sand-mining-policy-for-coastal-karnataka/articleshow/57519832.cms (March 2017)

As per law minister T B Jayachandra, the CRZ norms are controlled by the centre, over which Government has no control but the powers to allow sand mining in non-CRZ areas are under the state Government control. New Sand Mining policy in three coastal districts (Dakshin Kannada, Uttar Kannada and Udupi) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/coastal-districts-to-have-a-separate-sand-mining-policy/articleshow/60362984.cms (Sept 2017)

Complete ban on river sand mining by 2020? The state Government may completely ban mining of river sand in the coming years to put an end to the sand mafia which thrives unabated. It is also contemplating on increasing the production of manufactured sand, also known as M-sand, to meet the requirements of the construction industry.

In the last three years, seven to eight cases were filed by various agencies on an average every day. Since 2014-15, as many as 8,668 cases have been registered against individuals and others for illegal sand mining or transporting. Fines totalling Rs 41.98 Crores has been collected so far. A ton of sand costs Rs 600 to Rs 2000 depending on the quality, distance and bidder. Construction industry in the state needs over 5,000 truck-loads of sand every month. Each truck-load is about 8-10 tons.  The Department allows sale of sand accumulated in private land which may be about 2-3 km from the riverside. The sand accumulates due to flooding.  http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2017/mar/19/complete-ban-on-river-sand-mining-by-2020-1583120.html (March 2017)

SAND IMPORT FROM MALAYSIA 

Govt mulls river sand import from Indonesia and Philippines Hit by acute shortage of sand and its skyrocketing price, the Karnataka government allowed import of sand from Indonesia and the Philippines.

This follows several restrictions imposed by the state government on river sand mining in the backdrop of severe environmental degradation due to rampant illegal mining across all major rivers of the state. Import of sand will help complete ongoing projects.

But developers point out that sand shortage has led to increase in price and it costs between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1.2 lakh per truck load in Bengaluru. Imported sand would cost around Rs 1.5 lakh per truck load.

However, major developers were enthused by the import idea. According to them, the cost of construction would go up by Rs 40-Rs 80 per square feet if imported sand is used. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/karnataka-mulls-river-sand-import-from-indonesia-and-philippines/articleshow/58038789.cms (April 2017)

In May 2017, the government has decided to import sand from different countries through Mysore Sales International Limited (MSIL), which was formed to meet the marketing needs of Karnataka.

According to the mines and geology department, Karnataka’s annual sand requirement is 5 crore tonnes. The department gives permit to mine 50 lakh tonnes a year. The state is therefore facing shortage of 4-4.5 crore tonnes every year. Currently, sand is brought in illegally from Tamil Nadu and people pay Rs 1 lakh-1.25 lakh per truck. An official said filter sand is usually mixed to make money in the open market. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2017/may/20/soon-sand-from-malaysia-and-kenya-to-build-homes-in-karnataka-1606916.html (May 2017)

In August 2017, state government finally decided to import sand from foreign countries and floated tenders inviting bidders from four countries including Burma and Malaysia. As per report, Malaysia turned as lowest bidder and agreed to supply sand at Rs 3500 per tonne of sand and each truck load consisting with 10 tonnes of sand. https://www.newskarnataka.com/bangalore/karnataka-to-import-sand-from-malaysia (August 2017)

In August 2017, a Malaysian company was shortlisted for the export at an all-inclusive price of Rs 3,450 per tonne. The state government had floated a global tender through MSIL a nodal agency tasked with procurement and distribution of imported sand.

As per the report, the government identified Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand as potential sourcing points. However, a Malaysian firm emerged as the lowest bidder.

The Builders Association of India (BAI) held talks with a private firm in both the countries to import river sand. BAI has about 12,000 builders as its members across Tamil Nadu.

Interestingly, Malaysia imposed a ban on sand exports in 1997, but Malaysian media have previously reported instances of sand smuggling. http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/08/08/malaysian-company-export-sand-india (August 2017)

With the deal the prices of sand were expected to come down at Rs 35,000 per truckload. Currently, the price of locally sourced river sand was around Rs 70,000 per truckload. Sand will be imported through a ship: a ship-load contains around 40,000 to 50,000 metric tons. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/sand-prices-in-karnataka-to-come-down-to-rs-35000-per-truckload/articleshow/59960165.cms  (August 2017)

After state government officials said a bidder had been finalised for import of sand, a Malaysian newspaper reported that the country’s government had not given approval to exporting of sand. A report in The Sunday Daily quoted Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tunaku Jaafar, Natural Resources and Environment Minister of Malaysia, as saying, “The government is yet to give approval to any company in the country to export sand to India.” The article goes on to say though the sand export ban was lifted in 2015, the government hasn’t approved any exports yet. http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/malaysian-sand-slips-through-states-fingers/articleshow/60264473.cms (August 2017)

As per Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra to enable import of river sand from foreign countries, amendment to Minor Minerals Concession Rules was finalised and was to be placed before the Cabinet for approval. The Cabinet, in August this year, had approved import of sand.

Currently, the demand for sand in the state is around 35 million tonnes, of which about 40% is being met through river sand. While a truck load (10 tonnes) of imported sand cost between ₹15,000 and ₹20,000, industry players say that the locally sourced river sand in Bengaluru now cost ₹50,000 to ₹60,000 for a truck load (between 18 and 20 tonnes). They point out that M-sand costs around ₹1,250 per tonne.

Meanwhile, the state has also decided to disband the district-level task force mandated to process applications from M-sand producers to set up units. The applications will now be processed by the Department of Mines and Geology. Currently, there are around 60 M-sand manufacturing units in the State. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rules-to-be-tweaked-to-allow-sand-import-tb-jayachandra/article19949115.ece (October 2017)

In November 2017 the decks were cleared to facilitate import of “packaged” sand from Malaysia with the government set to amend some of the rules concerned. MSIL was to be start importing Malaysian sand after getting final clearance from the government. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/decks-being-cleared-for-import-of-malaysian-sand/article21208105.ece (November 2017)

The sand would be imported in 50-kg bags. The price appeared to be on the higher side in the range Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 3,800 a tonne as against the prevailing rate of Rs. 2,600. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/import-of-malaysian-sand-soon/article21237793.ece (December 2017)

As per another report, 50 kg bag of Malaysian sand would cost Rs. 190 and 20 bags (one tonne) would cost Rs. 3800 inclusive of all taxes. Likewise, 10 tonnes would cost a buyer Rs. 38, 000. The resent rate of sand in Karnataka for 10 tonnes was Rs. 50,000 to Rs 65,000 and if Malaysian sand is purchased a buyer will incur a saving of Rs. 12 to Rs. 22, 000 per 10 tonnes.  https://starofmysore.com/msil-distribute-sand-malaysia-ease-shortage/ (December 2017)

As per the latest report, the sale of imported packaged would start from January 2018 through MSIL, which had purchased 54,000 metric tonnes from Malaysia.  

The river sand from Malaysia has arrived at Krishnapattanam port in Andhra Pradesh, and is awaiting government clearance.

MSIL would start selling the imported packaged sand in ten ‘dry districts’, including Bengaluru rural and urban, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagar, Tumkur, Mandya, Mysuru and Chamarajanagar, where river sand quarrying is banned. In other districts, including the coastal belt, limited sand mining is allowed. MSIL had plans to sell 36 lakh tonnes a year, and had entered into a five-year contract with a consortium of Malaysian firms. The real estate sector currently uses M-sand.

As imported sand could not be sold, the state government had amended the Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1994, to allow dealers to import and sell sand. The amendment was yet to be notified, but this was expected to happen on Dec 26.

Presently, the annual demand for sand in the state is estimated at 50 million tonnes. Only six million tonnes is legally mined, while M-sand (manufactured sand, a by-product of stone quarrying) covers 20 million tonnes of the demand. The rest of the unmet demand is exploited by the sand mafia.

The move to allow imported sand comes after various stakeholders raised concerns about riverbeds being illegally exploited for construction and the sand mafia causing irreversible damage to ecology. The state cabinet approved the proposal in August. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/malaysian-sand-to-meet-local-demand/articleshow/62245227.cms  (December 2017)

As per this report, Maharashtra was already importing sand from Malaysia and Indonesia. https://starofmysore.com/state-govt-import-sand/

TAMIL NADU Administrative Actions No more sand mining in ravaged Palar riverbed Officially bringing the curtains down on sand mining in Vellore, the district administration on March 5, declared the closure of 8 sand quarries including the PWD owned Poondi-Santhapakkam quarry, which was among the largest sand quarries in the State. Their closure came after the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority did not give them approval to function. In fact, all the sand quarries were directed to shut down immediately and none were given any further approval this year. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2017/mar/06/no-more-sand-mining-in-ravaged-palar-riverbed-in-tamil-nadu-1578096.html (March 2017)

Government Intervention Government makes online purchase of sand compulsory Online purchase of sand for construction purposes was made compulsory by the Government from July 1, 2017. Following this, both truck owners involved in distribution of sand as well as the general public have to register online for purchasing sand. Will this help stop illegal and unsustainable sand mining and stop operations of sand mafias? Our governments seem to have much more faith in technology rather than fixing governance through participatory processes. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/tamil-nadu-online-purchase-of-sand-compulsory-from-july-1-4726285/ (June 2017)

Measures underway to promote use of M sand in construction sector As per State Govt, measures to promote the use of artificial (manufactured) sand as an alternative to river sand for construction sector were under way. The Government also announced to undertake mining, storing and selling of sand at cheaper rates, apart from setting up sand sales depots near rivers. The Government also said that required EC has been secured for opening seven new sand quarries in the state. ‘Manufactured sand’ or ‘M Sand’ is a substitute for river sand and is produced by crushing of granite.   Further, payment for the sale of sand, which was so far restricted to demand draft, will soon be done through Credit and Debit cards.

The Government press release stated that patrolling by Revenue and Police officials will be increased to check any irregularities, adding, steps were also being taken to prevent smuggling of sand to neighbouring states. Illegal sand mining has led not only to a fall in water level in river beds and basins, but also affected flow of rivers across the state. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2017/may/11/measures-underway-to-promote-use-of-artificial-sand-in-construction-sector-tamil-nadu-1603750.html (May 2017)

In July 2017, informing the state assembly the CM said that a special flying squad comprising officials from several departments was formed and appropriate monitoring was on to prevent beach sand mining.

Although beach sand mining was banned by the Government based on a Madras High Court order, it was submitted in the court that mining was being done “without permission”. The state also had requested the Centre on 23 May to give a report on beach sand deposits in coastal districts through satellite monitoring by Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Application and Geo Informatics.

It is worth mentioning that beach sand mining was banned since 2013 August in Tuticorin which was extended to other districts including Tirunelveli. A special team led by senior bureaucrat Gagandeep Singh Bedi was constituted in 2013 to go into the matter. The panel’s report was submitted in the High Court. http://www.firstpost.com/india/palaniswamy-govt-sets-up-flying-squad-in-tamil-nadu-to-tackle-illegal-sand-mining-3809529.html (July 2017)

Nearly 65,000 trucks enrol online for sand Hoping that the govt would reopen sand quarries across rivers in the State, around 65,000 trucks have enrolled till now through the online system to get sand from the government-run quarries. Around 3000 lorry owners from several parts of Tamil Nadu came to the PWD office in Trichy to verify their documents in a five-day camp that ended on Dec 22. The officials approved 2000 vehicles while rejecting around 1000 for want of valid documents.

Earlier, online system was necessitated due to complaints raised on irregularities in sand mining in Trichy region and other districts. Hence, the state government launched a website www.tnsand.in and a mobile App TNSand on July 01.

Yet, the truck owners misused the system by using a fake registration number to register it online. So, the government planned to create a database of the trucks registered to carry sand from the quarries. They conducted camps across Tamil Nadu to verify the documents of the trucks in August this year, through which 63,000 trucks got approval.

Though the number of trucks registered online was on the rise, the state govt was unable to supply enough sand. As of now, nine quarries are operating in Cuddalore, Nagappattinam and Vellore. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/nearly-65000-trucks-enrol-online-for-sand/articleshow/62214786.cms (December 2017)

TAMIL NADU SAND IMPORT FROM MALAYSIA 

State to get imported sand at one-third price In August 2017, the Builders Association of India (BAI) held talks with a private firm in Malaysia and Cambodia the countries to import river sand for costs ranging from Rs 35 to Rs 40 per cubic feet. Sand mined locally is now being sold at Rs 120 per cubic feet in the state.

As per report, quality river sand was not available even though buyers are ready to pay Rs 120 per cubic feet. A Malaysian firm has offered to export 2 lakh tonnes of river sand every month. BIA can import upto 6 lakh tonnes per month, as two more agencies can be roped in for importing sand from Malaysia.

The idea was not entirely new. A few years ago attempts were made to ship river sand from Cambodia to Tamil Nadu. However, it failed as the vessel carrying sand could not offload sand in Chennai due to extraneous factors. There were precedences of cement being imported from Korea in 1980’s to defuse its price.

BAI further said importing river sand from overseas was the lone available option to protect the rivers here. At present, only two sand quarries were operating in Tamil Nadu, offering hardly 1,200 loads daily, as against the daily demand of 25,000 loads in the state. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tamil-nadu-to-get-imported-sand-at-1/3rd-price/articleshow/58982329.cms (August 2017)

See similar report on Malaysia news portal http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/08/2-indian-states-to-import-sand-from-malaysia/ (August 2017)

The first-ever shipment of Malaysian sand to the state of Tamil Nadu arrived at its port in Thoothukudi despite criticism by environmentalists about the impact mass sand dredging would have on the natural conditions in Malaysia. States of Karnataka and Kerala also expected to import from the country to protect their own natural resources. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/29/malaysian-sand-arrives-in-india-despite-environmental-worries/ (October 2017)

Surprisingly against the import a Malaysian Cabinet minister was quoted as saying that he suspected “hanky-panky” in the contract as his government had not issued any export licences for sand. Malaysian Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told Free Malaysia Today news site on Sunday: “As far as I know, on record, we have never issued any (approved permits) to anyone to sell sand to India. There seems to be some hanky-panky by someone here.” http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/india-imports-sand-from-malaysia-but-kl-says-no-permit-issued (October 2017)

In November 2017, the 55,000-odd tonnes of sand imported from Malaysia by a Pudukottai-based private firm, was held up inside the V O Chidambaranar Port (Tuticorin) for legal issues.

While there has been confusing reports of origin of sand from Malaysia or Cambodia, the Malaysian government has confirmed that it has given approval for two companies to export 50,000 tonnes of sand to Tamil Nadu.

According to multiple reports the imported sand has been denied permission for movement to the destined consignee by the local authorities from the port premises citing legal issues.

MALAYSIANS ANGRY OVER SAND EXPORT

The export of sand went ahead despite protest and criticism from various NGOs in Malaysia, when the issue was made public a few months back. They urged the Malaysian Government pertinently the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE), Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to seriously look and resolve this matter with immediate effect. http://portwings.in/malaysian-sand-creates-storm-in-tamil-nadu/ (November 2017)

ANDHRA PRADESH Administrative Actions Crackdown continues on illegal sand mining For better monitoring of the mining activities In August 2017 Nellore district officials instructed all the vehicle owners covered under the 28 permitted sand reaches across the district to fix GPS within 15 days failing which stringent action would be taken against them as per the rules.

There have been nearly 90 reaches spreading over the Penna river, Swarnamukhi rivulet, Pamula Kaluva stream and so on all in the district. Due to various reasons, mining is not being allowed in most of these reaches during a year. Regardless of a series of preventive measures being taken by the administration from time to time, the violations of guidelines were witnessed very often.

The illegal mining activities have been a major cause for concern along the Swarnamukhi rivulet for many years considering the fact that this is located nearer to the AP-Tamil Nadu border. There were times when over 400 tractors of illegally mined sand had crossed the border at Tada to reach several destinations in the neighbouring State. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/crackdown-continues-on-illegal-sand-mining/article19526339.ece (August 2017)

Free Sand Policy 2016 Impact 

The free sand policy has brought down the cost of construction significantly, says Minister Photo Credit C.V.Subrahmanyam
The free sand policy has brought down the cost of construction significantly, says Minister.   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam, The Hindu 

Govt loosing ₹550 cr revenue to free sand policy Govt free sand policy announced in March 2016 has its impact on the revenue front. Therefore it has turned its attention to other minor minerals as alternative sources of revenue. As per Mines and Geology Minister R. Venkata Sujay Krishna Ranga Rao, the govt may be losing ₹550 crore due to the free sand policy, but has brought down the cost of construction significantly. The department has introduced a series of measures such as launching the ‘mana sand’ App, constitution of district-level committees, monitoring of sand-related activities real time, and opting for GPS tagging to check illegal mining. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/post-free-sand-policy-focus-shifts-to-alternative-revenue-sources/article22272296.ece (November 2017) 

Before this, the govt increased the rate of sand from Rs 60 to Rs 500 per cubic metre but the hike was not reflected in the government accounts, which shows the large scale corruption. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2016-02-28/Implement-free-sand-policy-in-true-spirit-Botcha/210342 (February 2017)

In August 2017, facing revenue losses (Rs 700 crore by this report) and misuse of free sand policy by sand mafia, the govt decided to revise the policy and collect nominal charges for supply of sand to the consumers.

As per the revised govt policy, consumers, who want to get sand free of cost for the construction of houses from the sand reaches, have to pay expenses for excavation, loading and transportation. Consumers can apply online for sand and can get delivery at the construction sites on payment of price and submission of Aadhaar and biometric details.

The govt is implementing two types of categories. The first category is sand desiltation from private persons who obtained permission for excavation. The second category is open sand reach, which is maintained by department of mines and Geology. Consumers can get sand from these two types of sand reaches.

As per report, sand mafia grossly exploited the free sand policy and was selling it between Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000 per trucks depending on the supply and demand. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2017-08-03/Government-revises-sand-policy/316410 (August 2017)

As per Minister for Mines and Geology, for effective implementation of the free sand policy, district level sand committees under the chairmanship of collectors had been constituted in the last month and following its recommendation, the decision has been taken fixing prices for loading and transportation costs only for all urban areas in the districts except East Godavari.

Govt fixes prices for loading, transportation of sand
Govt changes free sand policy (Image Source: The Hans India)

The minister also said that the he punishment for violation of rules will be with imprisonment up to 2 years and a fine of Rs.2 lakh. The public can also make a complaint about any excess rates to toll free no 1100. It is estimated that 186 reaches were closed due to various reasons in the state and reaches currently in operation are 294. Quantity identified as available is 1,45,40,723 Cum and quantity utilized under free sand policy was 68,58,545 Cum. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2017-08-11/Government-fixes-prices-for-loading-transportation-of-sand/318384 (August 2017)

In November 2017, illegal sand mining and collection of high prices from public by sand mafia dominated the proceedings in the State Assembly during the Question Hour. The members cornered the government by comparing the price of sand during the free sand policy regime against the price of sand earlier.

The MLA expressed concern over damaging of roads in his constituency limits due to the movement of illegal sand lorries and requested the government to sanction special funds for roads maintenance. 

Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao also expressed concern over collection of high amounts for supply of sand. Intervening on the issue, CM N Chandrababu Naidu directed the Minister for Mines to explain the measures being taken to curb illegal sand operations. Though the Minister explained the steps being taken by the government to prevent illegal sand transport, some of the members were not satisfied with his reply. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2017-11-14/Free-sand-policy-a-failure-alleges-Vishnukumar-Raju/339237 (November 2017) 

In August 2016 NGT had issued notices to State Govt, the Director of Mines and Geology and to all District Collectors following allegations of misuse of the recently introduced Free Sand Policy. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2016/aug/02/NGT-issues-notice-to-Andhra-government-over-free-sand-policy-1501121.html(August 2016)

TELANGANA Administrative Actions Karim Nagar police uses drone camera to checks illegal mining Karim Nagar police has successfully used drone technology to check illegal sand mining operations in Khajipur and Elgandal villages. During the aerial survey, the police identified 7 sand dumps, which were covered with hay in various locations. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/now-drone-camera-checks-illegal-sand-mining/article20493591.ece (Nov 2017)

The Karimnagar police using a drone camera to check illegal sand mining and transportation Photo Credit Byarrangement
The Karimnagar police using a drone camera to check illegal sand mining and transportation Photo Credit Byarrangement

Government Intervention Curbing illegal sand mining pays off for Telangana Curbing illegal sand mining has fetched huge revenues for the state govt. Till 2014, the Government used to get just Rs 10 crore in Telangana region, but after bifurcation, the state has earned Rs 419 crore in 2016-17 through sand mining. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/130617/curbing-illegal-sand-mining-pays-off-for-telangana.html (June 2017)

KERALA Government Intervention Survey planned for deep sea sand- mining Pointing out serious crisis owing to the scarcity of building materials in construction sector, the State Government considered a proposal for a survey to identify the offshore locations with the potential for deep sea sand-mining. As per Industries Minister a survey in this regard will be conducted following which, reputed institute would be asked to take up an impact assessment study. As per the report, the project would be taken up only after assessing its impact on the marine ecology and the livelihood of fishermen.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/survey-planned-for-deep-sea-sand-mining/article17418223.ece (March 2016)

The State Government also constituted a high-level committee for riverbank protection and regulation of sand mining. The panel, chaired by the Revenue Minister, will scrutinise and approve the schemes proposed by the district-level expert committees set up under the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Sand Mining Act, 2001. The Revenue Secretary has been nominated the convener of the committee and the Law Secretary, Land Revenue Commissioner, Director, National Centre for Earth Science Studies, ADGP B. Sandhya, Chief Engineer, Irrigation, K.A. Joshi, environmental scientists K.Soman and Biju Longinos and eco-activists R. Ajayan and P. Jinimon as members. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/high-level-panel-to-regulate-sand-mining/article17748988.ece (March 2017)

NATIONAL 

State Govts suggested uniform coding to check illegal sand mining As per the report the State Government of Odisha proposed the Union ministry to introduce a coding system for all states to prevent interstate movement of material excavated through illegal mining.

States like Jharkhand, Punjab and Karnataka were grappling with this problem. Jharkhand Government also felt that the problem needed to be tackled by the central govt. Though Punjab started e-auction of sand mines and collected Rs 170.28 crore as revenue, the illegalities with sand mining still persisted. E-auctions of sand mines was also being conducted in MP. The state had so far realised revenue of Rs 1,500 crore from the auction.

In Karnataka, sand availability was a big issue because of unchecked mining. The state Government was in favour of constituting a central committee to monitor the illegal mining of sand. In Chhattisgarh, grants of sand mining were delegated to the panchayat or the local body.

According to UN, illegal sand mining contributed to land erosion, compromises water security and affects the climate. It also threatens the existence of over 70 per cent of the world’s beaches. http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/odisha-suggests-uniform-coding-to-check-illegal-sand-mining-117061700753_1.html (June 2017)

As per a report Telangana topped the country in minor mineral revenue collection in 2016-17. The State earned Rs 3,169 crore in 2016-17 against Rs 2,369 crore in 2015-16, recording 34% growth rate, the highest in the country. Rajasthan stood second with growth rate of 16 %, followed by AP (14 %), Karnataka (12 %), Chhattisgarh (10 %), Tamil Nadu (3%), while Odisha and Jharkhand witnessed negative growth of 13% and 14% respectively. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/130617/curbing-illegal-sand-mining-pays-off-for-telangana.html (June 2017)

CENTRAL GOVERNMENT   

Sand is a ‘minor mineral’ as defined under the section 3(e) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act). Section 15 of the MMDR Act gives complete powers to the respective state Government regarding the formation of rules related to the grant of mining leases of minor minerals.

To understand the existing system of sand mining in various states and prepare a sand mining guideline which addresses all concerns of this sector, the Central Government decided to constitute a committee chaired by Arun Kumar, secretary, Ministry of Mines, along with officials from the state Governments. The first meeting of the committee took place in New Delhi on June 2, along with the Central Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee (CCEC) meeting on the same day. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/uttar-pradesh-identifies-200-sites-for-auction-after-resolution-of-court-cases-4735832/ (July 2017)

CCEC Representatives from seventeen states were present in the meeting. The discussion mainly focussed on the states’ preparedness for e-auction of mineral blocks for 2017-18. The seven states informed the Secretary Mines, that as many as 71 blocks have been identified for e-auctioning during the remaining part of year 2017-18.

The CCEC meeting discussed other key issues of the mining sector like Minor Mineral Rules, Status of project implementation under Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana & the creation of District Mineral Foundation after the MMDR Amendment Act with effect from 12 Jan 2015 to address the development of the people affected by mining. The meeting reviewed the progress in Mining Tenement System implementation, Mining Surveillance System, Star rating of mines, & the action plan for auctioning the mining leases expiring in March 2020. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=163356 (June 2017) The Minutes of the CCEC meeting can be accessed here: https://www.mines.gov.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/ccecminutes23062017.pdf

After issuing the evaluation template in May last year to provide star ratings to leases of major minerals such as iron ore and coal, the Central Government initiated the process to create a similar template for leases of minor minerals such as clay and sand.

The draft evaluation template for star rating of minor mineral leases was sent to each state Government for comments. The minor minerals draft template was much more brief (4 pages) and simpler than the 12-page final template that was issued in May 2016, for major minerals.

As per the draft evaluation template, if the lease area scored more than 75 points in its evaluation, it would be given 5-star rating. If it scored 60-75, it would be given 4-star rating. A 50-60 score would fetch 3-star rating.

This issue of preparation of evaluation template for star rating of minor minerals was also discussed during the CCEC meeting on June 2, 2017. Of the 16 mineral rich states that participated at the CCEC meeting, 11 said yes when they were asked if they would adopt the star rating system for minor minerals, too. http://indianexpress.com/article/business/commodities/evaluating-leases-after-major-now-its-minor-minerals-turn-for-star-ratings-4735829/ (Oct 2017) For meeting minutes, see: https://mines.gov.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/Starratingofmines12102017.pdf

MGMI 7TH Asian Mining Congress The 7th Asian Mining Congress and Expo was organised by the Mining, Geological and Metallurgical Institute of India http://www.mgmiindia.in/mgmi_org/index.php from Nov 8 to 11, 2017 in Kolkata. The theme of this Congress, attended by 800 delegates from all over the world, was “International Cooperation in Innovative Technology for Growth of Mineral Industry” and the focus was on Asia, the World’s largest raw material producer. http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/raipur/mgmi-holds-7th-asian-mining-congress.html

Inaugurating the Congress, Susheel Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Government of India said that future of the mining sectors would be in danger if correct measures are not taken to protect the environment. “We must modulate our behaviour and mining activities in such a way that the mining sector sustain longer. Safety of workers should be given top priority and sustainable development of mankind must be ensured,” he added urging professional bodies to impart proper trainings to the workers. http://www.alcircle.com/news/bauxite/detail/29135/the-7th-asian-mining-congress–kolkata-edition-turns-focus-on-sustainability-innovation

In the Congress the head of the Directorate General of Mines Safety admitted that silicosis caused by sandstone mining was a “concern”, nothing looks likely to change soon.

As per report silicosis has reached epidemic-like levels in Bundi, Kota and Bhilwara districts of Rajasthan. The entire region is a major sandstone supplier to the international market. DGMS is only now conducting a study to determine the extent of the problem. It has collected 9,000 samples from five or six States, including Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Gujarat.

Rajasthan has the highest number of mine leases (close to 35,000 mines, according to a 2015 report by the Department of Mines and Geology, Rajasthan), and has been at the centre of the silicosis debate in the country. A large number of its nearly 2.5 million mine-workers are under threat, with sandstone miners at even greater risk because sandstone has some of the highest quantities of silica. There were 125 confirmed cases of silicosis in Bundi in 2015, and 113 in 2016, according to Government data. http://www.thehindu.com/society/theres-death-in-the-air-here-in-dabi-village-in-rajasthan-silicosis-caused-by-sand-mining-has-reached-epidemic-like-levels/article21241289.ece (Dec 2017)

CBI Uttar Pradesh Team registers 5 preliminary enquiries in Uttar Pradesh The CBI registered five preliminary enquiries over allegations of illegal sand mining in five districts of Uttar Pradesh. The agency, on the directive of the Allahabad High Court, would probe charges of illegal mining in Shamli, Hamirpur, Fatehpur, Siddharth Nagar and Deoria districts.

The order was passed on a PIL filed alleging illegal sand mining was going on in Uttar Pradesh and that government officials were involved in it. CBI sources said the preliminary enquiries were registered against unknown officials of the district administrations, the Mining department of the Uttar Pradesh Government and others.

The preliminary enquiry is the first step toward substantiate allegations. If enough material is detected, establishing a crime, the agency registers an FIR on the basis of its findings. During a preliminary enquiry, the agency cannot summon a suspect or carry out searches. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/illegal-sand-mining-in-up-cbi-registers-5-pes/999552; http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/cbi-to-probe-illegal-sand-mining-in-5-up-districts/article17398079.ece  (March 2017)

CBI began examining senior Uttar Pradesh officials in its probe into illegal sand mining. The probe agency contacted officials of five districts last month and some were examined by CBI sleuths. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/up-govt-officials-come-under-cbi-lens-in-illegal-sand-mining-case/story-9Nn1t6Qs0aeJf1iIHhDl1J.html (June 2017)

Tamil Nadu CBI slapped 2 more cases against mining baron CBI registered two more cases against Tamil Nadu-based sand mining baron J, Sekhar Reddy, his associates K.Srinvasulu and K.Prem Kumar in connection with two instances of cash seizures. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/040117/cbi-slaps-2-more-cases-against-sekhar-reddy.html (January 2017)

He later got bail from CBI court but was detained by the Enforcement Directorate. Reddy was arrested in December 2016 after a series of raids by Income Tax department sleuths, who found he had Rs 106 crore in cash, including the new currency. https://scroll.in/latest/832356/tamil-nadu-sand-mining-baron-sekar-reddy-in-eds-custody-after-securing-bail-in-cbi-court (March 2017)

The probe by the CBI into to SRS Mining Company, in which industrialist J. Sekar Reddy was one of the partners, suffered a setback with the currency chests of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) not being able to provide the record of serial numbers of cash dispatched to banks in the post-demonetisation period. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/cbi-probe-hits-roadblock-in-sekar-reddy-case/article19914483.ece (October 2017)

Karnataka CBI closed Ballari mining scam cases? Reports suggested that the CBI closed all cases pertaining to the alleged Karnataka mining scam. It reportedly pulled the plug at the preliminary inquiry stage of its investigation into illegal ore exports coming from ports in Goa, Mangaluru and Krishnapatnam. A minister, in 2012, had claimed that the alleged scam was valued at a staggering Rs 25,000 crores with illegal mining underway in Karnataka’s Ballari district. http://www.timesnownews.com/mirrornow/news/in-focus/cbi-pulls-plug-on-karnataka%E2%80%99s-mining-scam-estimated-to-be-worth-rs-25-000-crores/54834 (Oct 2017)

CWC Government mulling new law to curb illegal sand mining To regulate sand mining in river beds and curb illegal mining, the Central Government has decided to look anew at the existing law and come up with fresh set of rules and regulations. For this, the Central Water Commission (CWC) had set up an internal committee which will, among other things, look at the need for a new law to replace the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 that notifies sand as a minor mineral.

The newly formed panel will suggest if a new legislation is needed. It will look at scientific measures for silt & sand removal for river development & economic construction activity. IIT Delhi has been entrusted with the task of doing morphology studies of rivers which will identify the silt deposits in various rivers, apart from their meandering capacity. http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/centre-mulling-new-law-to-curb-illegal-sand-mining/ (Oct 2017)

CPCB Telangan & Andhra Governments  pulled up over ‘illegal’ sand-mining The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) faulted the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh state Governments  for undertaking sand-mining in reservoirs and rivers without obtaining EC, without carrying out detailed assessment of sand deposition and without studying the impact on the environment. A team of scientists of the CPCB that visited both states submitted an additional report to the NGT on the matter. The tribunal had asked the CPBC whether the activity which the TS and AP Governments  claim to be desilting was indeed that or sand-mining. If the activity could be deemed desilting was it acceptable to use machines, the NGT asked. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/230517/cpbc-pulls-up-telangana-anf-ap-government-over-illegal-sand-mining.html (May 2017)

Uttarakhand  A team of CPCB visited the Haridwar inspecting the impact of stone quarrying on Ganga river. However the crusher owners obstructed the inspection. http://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/stone-crusher-owner-others-in-uttarakhand-booked-for-obstructing-cpcb-inspection-team/story-pHYPyPqFJ6eRC8zJxiQFdN.html (Nov 2017)

MoEF New Policy Draft Dilution of EC norms for mining of 47 minerals In a major dilution of laws, Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has proposed relaxation in EC for mining of 47 minerals classified as minor under the Indian mining regulations 47 minerals including sand, marble, limestone and brick earth. The draft notification issued in this regard on on Dec 18 allows states to clear mining projects spanning up to 100 hectares, thus doubling the limit. Minor mineral leases above 100 hectares will require clearance from the Centre. The annual value of extracted minor minerals is estimated to be upwards of Rs 50,000 crore. https://scroll.in/article/862355/centre-wants-to-dilute-environment-clearance-norms-for-irrigation-projects-mining-of-47-minerals (December 2017)

Uttarakhand Following Matri Sadan complaint of illegal mining in the Ganga in Haridwar, the MoEF sent a team to assess the impact of mining activity in river’s ecosystem. The team was to submit its report after its return to Delhi. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/moef-team-reaches-haridwar-to-assess-impact-of-mining-on-ganga/articleshow/61839182.cms (Nov 2017)

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

The first part of the report can be seen here Illegal Sand Mining 2017: Rivers Continue To Lose Mindless Mining Battle

You may also like to see, 

River Sand Mining in India in 2016-II- Governments Show no Will to Regulate 

River Sand Mining in India in 2015 – II – Government acts of omissions and commissions

4 thoughts on “Riverbed Mining 2017 -II- States Look To Centre, Centre Dilutes Norms

  1. Why sand mining should be illegal? It actually lowers the river bed so as to control overflowing of rivers into flood-plains. After Monsoons, we find the river bed is again full of sand. So ‘river-bed-sand ‘ is a replenishable resource. I think the whole policy is wrong.

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  2. Unfortunately there is no assessment of the adverse impacts. No one is monitoring of river bed levels.Suppose the level of the river bed in summer season goes down by a meter or so in one area due to removal of sand and after Monsoon rains are over the river bed level recovers fully, there is not adverse impact. Just like prohibition gave rise to a racket of illicit liquor, prohibition on river-bed mining has given rise to a chain of parties who get a fast buck from regulations and their non-compliance.

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    1. There is some assessment, and there is lot of evidence of adverse impacts. But we certainly need much better assessments and monitoring. Yes, dishonest regulation lead to corruption, but that should be a reason to strengthen the regulation, not discard it.

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