Karnataka is one of the leading states to witness the devastating effects of rampant sand mining. Between 2015 and 2018, the state has officially registered 20,779 cases of illegal sand mining, and 9,599 FIRs.
The state govt is receiving approximately Rs 150 crore per year as royalty from legitimate sand mining. As per estimates, the state govt is losing around Rs 200 crore per year due to illegal sand mining.
According to cement manufacturing companies’ data, around 18 million tonnes (MT) of cement is sold in the state every year. The cement-sand mix ratio is either 1:4 or 1:6 (four or six bags of sand per cement bag). Even if 1:4 ratio is taken, 72 MT of sand is approximately used in the state every year.
The official data from the Department of Mines and Geology shows that from the blocks permitted by it, a total quantity of 30 MT of sand (from all types of blocks – river sand, patta land, blocks allocated to govt departments, and manufactured sand) is produced in the state. Thus, there is a difference of at least 42 MT sand compared to the cement sold in the state.
A huge profit margin with no control over the price by any govt agency is one of the main reasons why illegal mining of river sand continues unabated in the state. The sand mafia in the state, reports argue, is largely controlled by politicians and their close inner circles and thus, it dares to take on the law.
As per an official, there is a direct connection between big infrastructure, irrigation projects and illegal sand mining. The construction boom has resulted in a sharp increase of this illegal trade. Sand is a minor mineral and the mining of sand comes under the state jurisdiction. Hence, illegal sand mining is rampant in states that are seeing huge infrastructure and irrigation projects.
According to social activists, the sand mining mafia is growing stronger despite the state having a separate sand mining policy. Almost all the major rivers in the state, such as Cauvery, Hemavathi, Tungabhadra, Krishna, Ghataprabha, Bhima, Vedavati and Netravati, are bearing the brunt of illegal sand mining. Numerous streams and tanks are also exploited indiscriminately. https://www.deccanherald.com/exclusives/illegal-sand-mining-wrecking.html (17 Sept. 2018)
Unbridled illegal sand mining in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts over the last few decades has caused irreversible ecological damage, according to environmentalists and experts. Illegal sand mining that thrives on the banks of Netravati, Phalguni, Sita, Swarna and Panchagangavali rivers has affected aquatic life as well as the course of the rivers.
Traditionally, sand was extracted sustainably by the fishermen. However, the increase in demand from major cities in the state and even neighbouring states has resulted in the deployment of heavy boats, earth movers and machinery to extract sand. This has affected the fragile ecosystem of the coastal region.
Experts say 90% of the labourers employed in the sector are from North India and the contractors are using heavy metal objects to dig 15 to 25 feet trench to mine sand. In spite of CRZ rules, 75% of sand mining in the coastal districts is illegal. https://www.deccanherald.com/special-features/75-sand-mining-coast-illegal-692887.html (16 Sept. 2018)
Alternative to River Sand? In an effort to reduce the environmental damage and simultaneously meet the increasing demand for sand, the state govt was promoting M-Sand (manufactured sand). According to Economic Survey of Karnataka (2017- 18) tabled before the assembly, the state claimed that various programmes are being held to bring public awareness on the usage of M-sand. M-Sand is produced in 18 districts and during 2017- 18, the annual target of M-Sand production was 30 MT,’’ an official said.
On questions about the quality of M-Sand. N S Prasanna Kumar, director Mine & Geology said, “It is a myth that M-Sand is of inferior quality. I have visited several construction sites where M-Sand is being used and it is perfectly fine”.
Lakshmi Keshava, an architect into construction business for the last 30 years, said the inconsistent supply of river sand has pushed the construction industry to move for M-Sand. “The reality is that good quality of sand is not available. In the last 2-3 years, we started getting low-quality river sand. To meet the demand, the suppliers started mixing river sand with M-Sand or even filter sand. We have stopped using river sand completely and are using M-Sand only. The M-Sand is being supplied in two qualities, one is called ‘single-wash’ and the second one is ‘double-wash’. One can be used for concreting and the other is for plastering”.
S Suresh Hari, vice president, Confederation of Private Real Estate Developers Association of India, Bengaluru, said, “Now it is difficult to get sand with required quality and the imported sand (Malaysian sand) is too expensive. The industry is slowly evolving newer technologies like having a lot of metal structures to avoid the use of sand”.
The state government’s ambitious scheme of importing sand from Malaysia had not taken off as expected. The Mysore Sales International Ltd, a govt undertaking importing sand from Malaysia, claimed that it had so far imported 8,000 tonnes and sold 4,000 tonnes of sand. MSIL is selling sand at Rs 4,000 per MT sand.
The MSIL sources said that the amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act was notified on Dec. 23, 2017. A source said that when the amendments were introduced to import sand, certain private agencies also applied for licences. Within a short time, the state govt granted permission and 3 such private agencies had imported sand. https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/bangladesh/english/deccan+herald-epaper-deccan/no+viable+alternative+to+river+sand+yet-newsid-97017455 (16 Sept. 2018)
Govt plans to sell imported M-sand to Kerala The sand imported from Malaysia in order to tide over the crisis in the state and that was stuck in the Mangaluru Port for almost 10 months due to bureaucratic hurdles finally found its way to the customers. The state cabinet decided to issue permits to sell the sand not just within the state but also to the neighbouring Kerala.
As per Minister U T Khader, the decision to make the imported sand available to Kerala was in Karnataka’s interest. “It was the sand mining ban in Kerala (CRZ area) which was the root cause of the crisis in Dakshina Kannada. Traders took it to Kerala as it fetched them good profit. Now, if we make availability of sand easy in Kerala, then the same will solve our problem,” he said. However, he said that the imported sand will be made available to Kerala only for six months and continuation will depend on the review of the situation after that. Further, he stated that the auctioning of sand dunes in CRZ area to start by Oct. 15 as per the guidelines of MoEF. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/sep/28/now-karnataka-plans-to-sell-imported-sand-to-kerala-to-end-crisis-1878226.html (28 Sept. 2018)
M-Sand from Malaysia piles up at ports Even as Karnataka was reeling under shortage of sand, 0.3 MT of imported sand from Malaysia has piled up at the Mangaluru and Krishnapattinam ports. Karnataka faces a shortage of 2-3 MT of sand, with the demand close to 33 MT. The imported sand is procured by individual organisations which had applied for licences.
Secretary for mines Rajendra Kumar Kataria said there is little demand for the imported sand from ports on account of high price and lack of clarity on the definition of “importers” to give licence to bring the sand inland. He said the govt was in the final phase of preparing a fresh sand mining policy and was awaiting teams which have gone to study policies in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/sand-from-malaysia-piles-up-at-ports/articleshow/67309045.cms (30 Dec. 2018)
VIOLENCE, MURDER AND PROTEST
Activist attacked for exposing illegal sand mining In May 2018, Hanumantha Bhangi, a social activist in Raichur, who has been fighting against the illegal sand mining relentlessly for years, was attached by the mafia. He had visited Krishna riverbed at Kolooru village in Shahapur taluk, on receiving information about illegal extraction and transportation of sand.
A known activist in the district, Hanumantha was soon identified and the perpetrators pounced on him. They kicked him and attempted to drown him in the river. When he tried to film the illegal loading of sand, the perpetrators snatched his mobile phone and money. https://www.deccanherald.com/exclusives/illegal-sand-mining-wrecking.html (17 Sept. 2018)
Activist Ajit Nayak murdered In July 2018, activist-lawyer Ajit Nayak was killed in Dandeli, the Uttara Kannada district while he was heading home from office. He was stabbed with a sword by an unknown person at his office premises. The incident sparked numerous protests in different parts of the states.
57-years old Nayak was vocal about several environmental causes including the Kali river rejuvenation. He was an active member of the Kali Bachao Andolan- a movement for the protection of Kali river from damming, rampant sand mining and pollution. https://newsclick.in/lawyers-and-activists-condemn-uttar-kannada-activist-ajit-nayaks-murder (30 July 2018)
Man protesting against ban on sand mining dies A man who participated in the protest in front of the DC’s office died on Oct. 25 evening. His health reportedly deteriorated after participating in the protest demanding for allowing sand removal activities in both CRZ and non-CRZ areas. “Mohammed Haneef had borrowed Rs 6 lakh loan and had purchased two boats to remove sand in Hejamady area along with one Hamza Hejamady.
But due to the blanket ban on sand removal activities in the district by the NGT, he suffered huge loss and died due to cardiac arrest,” Sathyaraj Birthi, vice president of Udupi District Sand Extraction Boat Employees’ Association said. To protest against the ban, various organisations under the All Organizations Struggle Committee for Sand, had launched the indefinite sit-in protest on Oct 25. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/oct/27/karnataka-man-protesting-against-ban-on-sand-mining-dies-1890695.html (27 Oct. 2018)
Citizens exposed mining in lakes, get death threats Residents of greater Bengaluru’s Sarjapur locality who planned to organise an awareness march for the community on Oct. 29 regarding the illegal sand mining in the region alleged of death threats from sand extractors. Over the past month, the rampant sand mining in the lakes in the region, including the largest water body in the Bellandur-Sarjapur region – Doddakere Lake, was exposed by concerned residents. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/rampant-sand-mining-lakes-b-luru-activists-allegedly-warned-against-awareness-march-90749 (29 Oct. 2018)
Official mowed down by truck for trying to stop sand mafia In Dec. 2018, a village official was killed in broad daylight while he was conducting a raid against the same in a village in the Raichur district. The accountant was conducting a survey when he suspected a lorry to be carrying illegal sand from Tungabadra River. He tried to stop the vehicle when he was run over by the driver. The villagers tried to rush him to the nearest hospital but he succumbed to his injuries by the time any treatment could start.
In the recent past, there had been multiple cases of illegal sand mining near the Krishna and Tungabadra rivers and officials had often been attacked on duty. In 2017, the Deputy Commissioner, Priyanka Mari Francis, and the then Assistant Commissioner Shilpa Nag raided the illegal sand mining activities in Kandlur village and were assaulted by a gang of people. In 2016, the sand mafia was suspected to be involved the incident where 13 crest gates of the Hingani barrage were broken and a large amount of water saved for irrigation and drinking water supply had gone to waste. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/crime/article/karnataka-shocker-official-mowed-down-by-truck-for-trying-to-stop-sand-mafia/335981 (24 Dec. 2018)
QUESTIONS OVER CLAIM OF SANDBARS IN CRZ AREAS
Bathymetry survey to be conducted to assess sand availability Unbridled sand extraction from rivers in CRZ in Dakshina Kannada, which got reduced to some extent recently, was set to get further reduced following the district administration’s decision to go for accurate assessment of sand available for extraction. The administration decided to go for a bathymetry survey of riverbeds in CRZ areas to assess the quantum of excess sand that may be extracted ‘to facilitate smooth movement of fishing boats.’
The committee had limited the number of permits within 100 this season, as against over 400 issued a couple of years ago as the first step to prevent excess exploitation of riverbeds. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bathymetry-survey-to-be-conducted-to-assess-sand-availability-in-crz-areas/article24117258.ece (9 June 2018)
Govt allowed traditional miners for sand mining CM HD Kumaraswamy on Sept. 25 assured the legislators of Dakshinia Kannada and Udupi districts that the govt will finalise the process of allowing traditional sand miners, in both the CRZ and in non-CRZ zones of the two districts, to start mining from Oct. 16. The move effectively removed the previous govt decision to auction the sand blocks in the non-CRZ zones of the two districts after it failed to attract a single bidder.
The CM directed an incomplete study of identifying the existing sand quantity available along the river beds and also in the non-CRZ blocks to be submitted to the National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NIT-K) Suratkal, which will then cross verify the report and submit a final document to the govt. There were 130 traditional sand miners in Dakshina Kannada and 120 in Udupi district. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/govt-to-allow-traditional-sand-miners-for-sand-mining-from-october-16/articleshow/65952746.cms (25 Sept. 2018)
MLAs trying to get mining ban lifted will face cases Environmentalists warned of the filing of a criminal case if elected representatives stage a protest and try to bring pressure on officials on the issue of sand bar removal in Udupi district. The Udupi BJP MLA Raghupathi Bhat had alleged that shortage of sand was affecting the people of the region. He had declared that a protest would be held from Oct. 25 in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office if the he did not allow full-fledged sand removal.
He had said that about nine sand bars were identified which may allow only about 30 people to remove sand. He demanded that all the 171 people who have been removing sand should be given a chance as there was shortage of sand in the region. This move by elected representatives to pressurise officials has annoyed environmentalists who have decided to start a legal fight. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/221018/mlas-trying-to-get-sand-mining-ban-lifted-will-face-cases-greens.html (22 Oct. 2018)
Standoff between protestors and Udupi DC The protestors were demanding that 171 persons be given permission to extract sand from Coastal Regulation Zone areas in Udupi district. The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification (CRZ), 2011 had imposed a ban on sand mining in CRZ areas. The CRZ ruling covered sand mining in the six west-flowing rivers in the district – Swarna, Seetha, Papanashini, Varahi, Souparnika, and Yedamavinahole.
After a request by the state govt, the notification was amended to allow traditional communities to remove sand in non-mechanised boats using baskets or buckets manually. The amendment was introduced on the grounds that sand deposits in the rivers was causing obstruction to navigation & fishing boats. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/sand-mining-row-standoff-between-protestors-and-udupi-deputy-commissioner-enters-day-5-90750 (29 Oct. 2018)
Worries over illegal mining in CRZ areas Environmentalists expressed concern over the dangers of mining sand from CRZ even as political parties, builders and contractors were putting pressure on the govt for stepping up the supply of sand. The National Environment Care Federation (NECF) sent letters to the DCs of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts and to Rajendra Kumar Kataria, secretary, Commerce and Industries Department (incharge, mines and geology department) expressing objections to sand mining in the CRZ.
In the letter, H Shashidhar Shetty, General Secretary NECF said though the MOEF allows sand bar removal only if sand bars poses danger, the miners have got false letters from a few villagers to facilitate getting permit to sand mining in the garb of sand bar removal. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/news/state/greens-worried-over-illegal-sand-mining-in-crz-areas/articleshow/66482430.cms (3 Nov. 2018)
NGO asks ACB to probe sand mining Raising questions over the process of identification of sand bars in CRZ area of the river Swarna, the NECF asked the ACB to probe the issue. In his complaint, Shashidhar Shetty, general secretary, NECF, alleged: “Few officials of govt departments concerned in Udupi, led by Kundapura sub division assistant commissioner, committed fraud through false identification of sand bars in the river Swarna in Udupi district to facilitate businessmen to mine sand in the garb of sand bar removal.” As per rules only sand bars which are obstructing fishing boats and vessels in rivers could be removed. Mr Shetty alleged that even when there were no sand bars in the river, false complaints were filed stating that sand bars were obstructing fishing boats.
He also pointed out another interesting fact: “The district administration had received 47 complaints from ‘fishermen involved in fishing in the river,’ about sand bar obstructing their activity. But the boat registration certificates enclosed with the complaints reveal that all these boats were fiberglass boats with base operations at sea and these boats are not at all used in rivers. It was clear that all 47 complaints were to misguide the administration!” https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/221118/ngo-asks-acb-to-probe-sand-mining.html (22 Nov. 2018)
ILLEGAL SAND MINING INCIDENTS 2018
Illegal mining at TG Halli dam as officials look the other way Miners carved a road to the Thippagondanahalli dam, by axing many trees thus causing soil erosion but the dam owner Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board and local administration act as if they are unaware of the activity. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/650631/illegal-sand-mining-tg-halli.html (29 Dec. 2017)
Bullock cart owners plead for relaxation on sand mining ban The ban on mechanized, illegal, unsustainable mining in Cauvery river was affecting villagers in Musiri area, Trichy who were earning livelihoods by mining sand manually & transporting it through bullock carts. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/bullock-cart-owners-plead-for-relaxation-on-sand-mining-ban/articleshow/62546637.cms (18 Jan. 2018)
Sand mining and politics feed off each other Detailed report on illegal sand mining issue: Sand mining is a highly lucrative business and political parties have crafted a clientele model to run it, officials said. Politicians give mining permits to their loyalists, who in turn pour money into local politics.
It is effectively a kind of a benami system, only it also threatens to destroy the sensitive ecosystem of the 21 rivers flowing through the region. https://scroll.in/article/878230/in-communally-volatile-coastal-karnataka-sand-mining-and-politics-feed-off-each-other (10 May 2018)
Illegal sand mining led to collapse of bridge on Phalguni river The collapse of Mularpatna Bridge, the first ever bridge in the coastal region in Karnataka, on June 26, 2018, brought the stronghold of Sand Mafia in the region into the limelight yet again. The locals were informing the officials about the illegal extraction of sand at the base of the bridge, weakening and damaging the pillars supporting the bridge.
But all the cases of complaints were ignored. The sand mafia is a network of influential politicians, powerful, and established construction companies and miners, who function in open daylight throughout the state. This influential network has figured it’s ways to function openly by breaching all the existing rules and regulations. The investment made by the Sand Mafia is too low but the returns are remarkably high. https://www.newsclick.in/sand-mafia-network-politicians-construction-companies-and-criminals (17 June 2018)
Mangaluru sand miners swim across river to escape About 12 sand miners escaped from the clutches of a team led by the Mangaluru tahsildar cracking down on illegal sand mining in the district by jumping into the river and swimming across on the city’s outskirts on Sept. 1 night. However, they managed to seize three boats, four JCBs, seven tippers and a scooter. 10 loads of sand were seized from the miners, said Guruprasad, tahsildar.
The Mangaluru district has a history of being plagued by illegal sand miners, transporters and hoarders. At least 53 complaints about illegal sand activity this year were received at the police station and most were handed over to the mines and geology department for further action. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/sep/03/mangaluru-sand-miners-swim-across-river-to-escape-1866818.html (3 Sept. 2018)
Islanders in a predicament over sand dunes on the beach Residents of Uchchila kudru and Talapady kudru (river islands) on the beaches of the Arabian Sea, bordering Kerala and off Mangaluru, were in two minds over what to do with the sand dunes that had always been a part of their landscape. While nature has prevented free flow of three rivulets — Uchchila, Talapady and Kunjathur that join together at Batpady — into the Arabian Sea due to the presence of large sand dunes, the local administration cut open the dunes during the monsoons to prevent flooding of these kudrus.
In summer, though, people don’t want the waters to join the sea as the groundwater will get recharged and does not get salty with the sea water. So, traditionally the sand dunes have always served a purpose. However, of late, illegal sand extraction on the beach had been destroying the sand dunes and threatening the fragile ecosystem, irrespective of the season. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/islanders-in-a-predicament-over-sand-dunes-on-the-beach/article25349626.ece (28 Oct. 2018)
Sand mining rampant in Raichur The Krishna and Thungabhadra rivers flow into Raichur and the sand on the banks of these two rivers were fodder for sand mafia for many years. Sources in the district administration said that their efforts to curb illegal mining had failed to yield desired results since many involved in sand mining had strong political connections.
Sand mafia in Raichur appeared to be thriving because of the ever rising demand for sand from other cities in the state, and from neighbouring Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The miners charge Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 70,000 per truckload of sand and were reportedly walking off with handsome profits. While the authorities had identified 18 locations along the journey of the two rivers in the district where they suspected illegal sand mining to be rampant, there were 100 such places. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/sand-mining-rampant-in-raichur/articleshow/67220993.cms (24 Dec. 2018)
Police-politicians accuse each other of illegal sand mining The legislators and police at logger-head over illegal sand mining issues. While D Shekhar, BJP MLA from Goolihatti tried to immolate himself in front of a police station in Hosadurga on Jan. 6, 2019 night alleging local police of being involved in illegal sand mining, another BJP MLA M Chandrappa threatens that he and his supporters would picket police stations and “torch” them if the police did not take concrete steps to stop illegal sand mining in Chitradurga district.
Contrary to their version, police say D Shekhar was demanding release of 4 tractors caught for carrying illegally mined sand, but police officials refused to do so. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/bjp-mla-attempts-suicide-over-illegal-sand-mining/articleshow/67431688.cms (8 Jan. 2019)
Launching a tirade against Police Superintendent Dr Arun M of being corrupt, Chandrappa alleged that the SP wanted to increase the quantum of bribe. Hence, he would be strict in the beginning. However, now he is hand-in-glove with illegal sand miners. He claimed that the police were seizing tractors & carts used by poor people to transport sand for the construction of their houses. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2019/jan/08/stop-illegal-sand-mining-or-will-torch-police-station-mla-1922041.html (8 Jan. 2019)
Lokayukta probe reveals illegal mining in Haveri, Kodagu Lokayukta report revealed that Sand Regulatory Committees headed by the Deputy Commissioner in Haveri and Assistant Commissioner in Kodagu districts were mute spectators and local police turned blind eyes to sand being illegally extracted and transported from the Tungabhadra river in Haveri district and streams of Lakshman Theertha in Kodagu district.
It also said the utter failure had been responsible for continued looting of natural resources and causing a huge loss to the state’s exchequer and damage to ecology. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2018/may/25/bengaluru-lokayukta-probe-reveals-illegal-sand-mining-still-rampant-in-haveri-kodagu-1819207.html (25 May 2018)
Lokayukta orders to stop illegal sand mining in Gadag In June 2018, the Lokayukta Police found that sand was being extracted illegally at Dyamahunse village in Rona taluk of Gadag district. The investigation was conducted by the Lokayukta police based on an anonymous complaint filed with Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty.
Lokayukta initiated suo-motu proceedings to investigate the matter. It asked the DC of Gadag district to conduct an inquiry, submit the report within four weeks and stop the illegal extraction of sand from Dyamahunse village. The superintendent of police, Assistant Commissioner, Rona taluk, Senior Geologist, tahsildar & others were asked to cooperate with Deputy Commissioner. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/jun/17/lokayukta-orders-to-stop-illegal-sand-mining-in-karnatakas-gadag-1829270.html (17 June 2018)
29,000 cases detected in 3 years Taking serious note of the fact that nearly 29,000 cases of illegal stone quarrying and sand mining were detected across the state by the Mines and Geology Department in the last three years, Lokayukta said that more stringent and effective steps need to be taken to protect the rich natural resources and prevent environmental imbalance. A total of Rs 110 crore fine was collected for violation of norms in these cases.
The Lokayukta’s directions come in the wake of the details submitted by the director for Mines and Geology in response to the complaints over illegal stone quarrying and sand mining.
The data revealed that the department had collected Rs 64.78 crore in fines by detecting 8,224 cases of illegal stone quarrying and transportation between 2015-16 and 2017-18. Similarly, the department had collected Rs 44.97 crore by detecting 20,588 cases of illegal extraction of sand in the same period. Criminal proceedings were initiated in all these cases. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/jul/09/illegal-stone-quarrying-sand-mining-continue-unabated-1840496.html (9 July 2018)
Plans to increase scope of sand mining in pipeline: MLA Notwithstanding illegal sand mining in the coast, Bantwal MLA Rajesh Naik pitched for extending legal rights for sand mining. The matter was expected to be discussed at the ministerial level. The MLA was of the opinion that increasing the scope for legal sand mining was the only way out to bring in accountability and make mining a profit making business model to the exchequer. Convinced that the bridge connecting Mangaluru and Bantwal at Mullarapatna in his constituency collapsed due to rampant sand mining, Naik had held preliminary talks with PWD minister HD Revanna on July 12. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/plans-to-increase-scope-of-sand-mining-in-pipeline-bantwal-mla/articleshow/65014694.cms (17 July 2018)
Govt mulls sand extraction from private land In Oct. 2018, state govt planned to allow sand extraction from private property. This came in the wake of the govt permitting 250 traditional miners to extract sand in the coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. Sources said officials of the mines and geology department discussed the issue with CM and were set to amend the sand policy to allow mining in patta land (owned by individuals with proper documentation).
“The govt is losing its grip on the sector to the mafia,” said a senior official from the mines department. “The stricter the norms, the more rampant is illegal mining.” At present, the demand for sand is about 35 MT, but only 30 MT was being supplied. The govt claimed the gap between demand and supply was being filled by illegal miners and rampant transportation from outside the state. Officials also said that the govt was operating on skeletal staff and was therefore unable to curb illegal mining. The govt embarked on a drone survey of sand deposits in the state. As per officials the govt had already surveyed 70% of the area and will complete the process in a few months. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/now-government-mulls-sand-mining-on-private-land/articleshow/66022550.cms (8 Oct. 2018)
Green signal for sand extraction in Udupi The Karnataka State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) and Department of Forest, Environment and Ecology gave green signal for the extraction of sand from the sand blocks identified in CRZ areas in Udupi and Brahmavar taluks in Udupi district. As per DC Priyanka Mary Francis, tenders were invited for extracting sand in non-CRZ area as well and extraction will start after completion of tender process.
In Dakshina Kannada DC Sasikanth Senthil planned to convene a meeting of district-level task force committee to decide on issuing permits for traditional sand extraction in 12 sand blocks identified in CRZ areas in the district. The district administration had sought permission for extracting sand in 22 sand blocks from the KSCZMA and DoFEE. The authorities had given permission for sand extraction in 12 blocks. It is estimated that about 0.8 MT sand would be available in these 12 blocks. https://www.deccanherald.com/green-signal-sand-extraction-699063.html (21 Oct. 2018)
DC approves mining in Uttara Kannada The district administration granted permission for sand extraction from the water bodies of Uttara Kannda district including River Sharavati, Aganasini and Gagavali, however the extraction to begin, it would take about a week as certain procedures are yet to be completed. Uttara Kannada DC SS Nakul approved the requests of private entities to extract sand adding condition that to secure licence for extraction the entities will have to stock the first 10 loads of sand at the govt’s sand stock yards at Haliyal & Yellapur.
The district administration also instructed merchants to ply sands only on tipper and lorry and warned any vehicles including Bolero, 407 and 909 found carrying sand will be seized immediately. Instructions were also set to install GPS on the boats that will be used for sand extraction from the water beds. http://www.bhatkallys.com/latest-news/dc-nakul-approves-sand-extraction-in-uttara-kannada-extraction-may-begin-next-week/ (23 Oct. 2018)
Karnataka enters into border row with Telangana Tension continued to prevail for the third day on Dec. 21 after the Karnataka officials peg-marked about 75 per cent of the Kagna riverbed near Basheerabad in Vikarabad district declaring that their state owns the stretch. But the Vikarabad district officials took serious objection to it and maintained that a major portion of the land which Karnataka is claiming as its, belongs to Telangana. Though talks took place between the two states at various levels, the issue remains unresolved.
In 2016, Karnataka state sanctioned permission for mining 0.15 MT sand to their rural development corporation in Kagna river. From then on, contractors have been mining sand in the region. When the mining activity crossed the border, the farmers of Kyadgira in Basheerabad mandal stopped them. They raised objection which led to the present controversy. https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2018-12-21/Karnataka-enters-into-border-row-with-Telangana/462298 (21 Dec. 2018)
4 new mining policies to plug revenue leakage In Jan. 2019 the govt has decided to come out with four new mining policies on sand, granite, building material and stone crushers each. The decision to introduce the policies was considered after taking a cue from states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. A team from the Karnataka mining department had visited these states to conduct a study on the steps taken by them to check overexploitation and illegal transportation of minerals.
Rajendra Kumar Kataria, secretary, mines department, said the policies will be implemented before the end of current financial year by incorporating some changes in the Karnataka minor minerals concession rules. “While the sand policy is being readied by a cabinet sub-committee led by deputy CM G Parameshwara, the other 3 policies on granite, building material and stone crushers will be drafted in quick succession,” said Kataria.
Department sources claim that in the case of building material, scores of companies were drawing over and above the permissible limits for which licences were obtained. “For instance, when a contractor supplies building material for a national highway project, the department keeps a record of it as per the mineral dispatch permit (MDP) in the measurement book. So, if the company supplies 10 lakh tonnes for an NH project, it shows that it has an MDP for 2 lakh tonnes, and the rest 80 % of the material is not mentioned in the book,” said the official.
While the govt gets a royalty of 20 % on the value of building material shown in the book, the royalty on the remaining 80 % is lost. “While the royalty may be recovered in some sense, the govt incurs loss in terms of the money to be allocated to the DMF — which is 30 % on the royalty — and another average annual premium of 30 % on the royalty,” said the official. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/govt-to-implement-4-new-mining-policies-to-plug-revenue-leakage/articleshow/67647823.cms (23 Jan. 2019)
Sand mining offenders to be tried by JMFC courts 40 cases of illegal sand mining, stocking and its transportation pending before the Dakshina Kannada Principal District and Sessions Court, which was the special court constituted under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act 1957, were transferred to jurisdictional JMFC (Judicial Magistrate First Class) courts. This was done following directions by Justice K.N. Phaneendra, Judge, Karnataka HC, in his judgement dated Nov. 15, 2017. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/sand-mining-offenders-to-be-tried-by-jmfc-courts/article24383061.ece (11 July 2018)
NGT not to interfere with state’s rules In Oct. 2018, NGT declined to interfere with the Karnataka’s rules permitting the use of JCB in sand mining in view of the assurance given by the state govt that no mechanised extraction of sand would be allowed in river and floodplain. The applicant had initially challenged the validity of an order issued by the state govt on Nov. 2016, under the provisions of Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rule, 1994, permitting the use of JCB for sand mining and permitting in-stream sand mining at the base of the river.
The fresh plea had sought review of the Aug. 20 order, contending the averments made with regard to use of JCBs, suction pumps, dredgers, mechanised boats in sand mining in river Bhima had been ignored. NGT dismissed the review application filed by Dr Sarvabhouma Bagali against the tribunal’s order passed on Aug 20. It had also noted no material has been furnished to show that mechanical or in-stream mining was actually taking place. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/ngt-declines-interfere-state-s-696435.html (5 Oct. 2018)
Summary There were several incidents of illegal sand extraction in Karnataka in 2018. The state was using around 70 MT sand annually while the govt was able to produce on 30 MT Reports reveal that the govt was losing about Rs 200 crore to illegal sand mining business.
Multiple reports hint at nexus of sand mafia including contractors, politicians, govt officials behind illegal sand mining from the rivers. All the rivers in the state are bearing the brunt of unsustainable mining. The districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are apparently most affected. In spite of CRZ rules, 75% of sand mining in the coastal districts is illegal.
As an alternative to river sand, govt is seen promoting M-Sand and importing sand from Malaysia. According to report, MSIL has so far imported 8000 T and sold half of it. Despite facing sand dearth, the govt in Sept. 2018 decided to send imported sand to Kerala. Another report mentions that about 0.15 MT Malaysian sand was stuck at two ports due to bureaucratic hurdles.
M-Sand is being produced in 18 districts of state. However there is still no clarity on quality. In absence of river sand, many developers have started using M-Sand. The govt also planned to allow sand mining from private property in Oct. 2018. In Dec. 2018 the state has entered into a boundary row with Telangana emanating from sand extraction issue in Kagna river. As per latest report, the govt is working on 4 separate mining policies for sand, granite, building material and stone crushers to stop the revenue losses to corruption.
Like Madhya Pradesh, there were violent attacks on Govt officials and activists raising voices against illegal mining. In July activist Ajit Nayak was murdered in Uttar Kannada district while in Dec. 2018 a govt official was killed during a raid. There were couple of other reported incidents of threat and violence to the people working to stop illegal mining.
One person died of heart attack during protest rally demanding removal of sand mining ban in Udupi district in Oct. 2018. Similarly in June 2018, the first ever bridge in coastal area collapsed due to illegal sand mining. Despite this, the local MLA favoured more sand mining from the Phalguni river.
It seems that while illegal sand mining was going on, public and small sand miners were suffering from scarcity, high prices and sand mining ban. It is also surprising to see that Mines and Geology Department has detected about 29,000 cases of illegal stone quarrying and sand mining in last 3 years. The issue of sand mining in coastal area is also curious, where on the one side politicians were putting pressure for allowing sand mining in CRZ and Non-CRZ areas and the concerned activists on the other hand trying their best against the demand. Finally in Oct. the district administration has approved the same.
The open fight between BJP MLAs and police officials in Chitradurga district in Jan. 2019 was another interesting episode in the series where they blamed each other of being involved in illegal mining activities. Amid the gloomy scenario the efforts by Lokayukta report disclosing and stopping illegal sand mining in Tungabhadra river and in Kodagu districts were appreciable. However, there were not many effective court orders regarding illegal sand mining during 2018 in the state.
Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)