Sand Mining

Sand Mining 2018: Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Telangana Sand Mining Incidents

Illegal miners let scot free Allegations of illegal red sand mining surfaced at Dasugadd Tanda area barely 15 km from the Sangareddy district headquarters. Officials have seized vehicles and imposed a fine but the offenders were allowed to go scot-free. Officials reason that the accused were let off since they belonged to Lambada community and any action against them would have created unnecessary trouble for the administration. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/deep-pits-found-illegal-mining-of-red-sand-alleged/article22277688.ece (26 Dec. 2017)

Agents profiteering from illegal sale of sand  A two-part YouTube video report titled, “How to do sand booking online and make 2000 Per Day” tells viewers how one could earn anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 2000 for each booking by striking a deal with lorry drivers. The report revealed that, there are agents who are still profiteering from illegal sale of sand. The govt website called ‘sand.telangana.gov.in’ mandates that those who want sand need to do the booking from one of the govt operated stockyards across the state.

The YouTube video with over 60,000 views explains how one could book sand by striking a deal with any of the lorry drivers approved by the Road Transport Authority. The website lists out the phone numbers of the drivers, and says that a deal could be cut with them to resell this sand at a higher rate. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/it-easy-game-telangana-govt-s-sand-policy-video-surfaces-startling-claims-84513 (10 July 2018)

Illegal mining goes unabated in Krishna According to villagers, a few contractors, ‘backed by the Telugu Desam leaders’, were mining sand from the stream and transporting it without obtaining necessary permissions from the department concerned.

Reliable sources in the revenue department said Water Resources Minister Devineni Umamaheswara Rao was the person supporting the illegal sand mining and that he failed to take action against the accused when the villagers approached him with complaints. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/vijayawada/2018/nov/19/illegal-sand-mining-goes-unabated-in-krishna-1900129.html  (19 Nov. 2018)

Illegal Sand Mining Related Deaths and Murders

VRA mowed down by sand mafia On Jan. 4, 2018, a Village Revenue Assistant (VRA) was allegedly killed by sand mafia in Kamareddy district. The VRA identified as Boyini Sayulu was working at Kambapoor village of Pitlam Mandal. He had recently made a raid after receiving information about illegal sand mining which is rampant in district and part of state.

He informed his higher officer too before leaving to the Kakivagu stream where the sand mafia were present. But he never made it back home and later, his dead body was found by the villagers. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/telangana-vra-mowed-down-killed-by-sand-mafia-1122987-2018-01-05 (5 Jan. 2018)

Sayulu’s family members alleged that he was knocked down when he tried to stop a sand tractor which was illegally transporting sand from Karegaon village. Villagers said that sand mining in Karegaon from the Kakivagu stream was rampant. The report says that Sayulu had an argument with the tractor drivers and one of them ran over him.

Dismissing the allegations and the angle of sand mafia killing, District Collector N Satyanarayana said that it was an accident. He also said that there was no sand in the village suitable for any kind of construction. He even said that the man could be in a drunken state. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/telangana-village-official-tries-stop-tractor-allegedly-run-over-sand-mafia-74228 (5 Jan. 2018)

Further, the collector said that K. Sayulu was not a village revenue assistant and he had nothing to do with the govt. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-telangana/accident-not-murder-says-collector/article22381401.ece ( 6 Jan. 2018)

The mystery around the profession of Sayulu, continued as his wife Saiyamma claimed that her husband was a VRA. She said he was assigned duty by the local Tahsildar and demanded that govt do justice to her family. https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2018-01-09/Sailu-was-a-VRA-claims-his-wife/350938 (9 Jan. 2018)

1 dead, 1 injured after falling in illegal mining pits in Suryapet A youth lost his life on April 23, and the condition of another one was critical after falling in one such pit in Musi river at Jajireddy Gudem village in the Suryapet district. A native of Parsayapally village, Biraboina Srinivas (25), who went to lift sand fell in a pit near Gangadevamma temple near Musi. The pit was full of water due to recent rains. Another youth, Merugu Madhu, who also fell into the pit was rescued by other workers. He was shifted to the Area Hospital at Suryapet.

Suryapet
Biraboina Srinivas, who died after falling in a pit in Musi at Jajireddy Gudem village in Suryapet district 

The illegal lifting of sand by mafia continues unabated in Musi at Jajireddy Gudem village as it fetches good money for the youth. Each person earned more than Rs 500 per day for lifting sand. In the last 2 years, at least 6 youths from the village lost life by falling into these pits. https://telanganatoday.com/1-dead-one-injured-after-falling-in-illegal-sand-mining-pits-in-suryapet (23 April 2018)  

Government Efforts

Govt to use tech to curb illegal sand mining  To curb illegal sand mining and make mining operations transparent, the State govt decided to integrate technology with the process and enable people to book sand vehicles through Mee Seva centres & other online systems for personal usage. Special teams comprising police, mining and revenue depts were being constituted to nab those operating illegal sand dumps & transportation against govt guidelines.

Reviewing sand mining operations, Mines and Geology Minister KT Rama Rao wanted the officials to geo-tag all mining areas, including sand reaches, and establishment of geo-fencing to ensure that mining does not occur beyond permitted lease areas. Officials informed that adequate sand holdings were available to meet the existing demand.

Besides using drones for monitoring mining of major and minor minerals along with sand, the officials were asked to use technologies like GPS & RFID tags for vehicles transporting sand & other minerals. They were also advised to use satellite-based technology for identification of illegal dumps, vehicular movement & overloading of vehicles with the help of Information Technology dept. https://telanganatoday.com/telangana-tech-curb-illegal-sand-mining (12 Jan. 2018)

New sand policy to put illegal mining at bay Karimnagar district administration constituted the district-level sand management society to put an end to illegal sand transportation. Participating in the district-level sand committee meeting in March 2018, District Collector Sarfaraz Ahmed said the society was constituted to provide sand to public at a cheaper price, putting an end to illegal transportation.

While the Collector is Chairman of the society, DRO, RDO, AD mining and geology, tahsildars and station house officers were the members. He invited people’s opinion on March 19. In Nov. 2017, the police with the help of drone cameras unearthed sand dumps under haystacks in the villages located around Lower Manair Dam. Illegal sand stocks were found in Elgandal and Khazipur village. About 70 lorries were also seized by the police.

According to the new policy, vehicle owners who want to engage their vehicles in sand transportation should register their names with the society. Except registered ones, other vehicle would not be allowed for sand transportation. The mandal-level sand committee would supply sand to the people who book sand through online.

Though the permitted sand quarries were closed due to water flow, district administration identified seven other reaches, including Thanugula of Jammikunta mandal, Korkel of Veenavanka mandal, Chegurthi of Karimnagar rural, Lingapur, Veldi, and Vegurupalli of Manakondur mandal and Nedunur of Thimmapur mandal. https://telanganatoday.com/new-sand-policy-to-put-illegal-mining-at-bay-in-ts (10 March 2018)

Cases against illegal sand mining in Manair River in Karimnagar In a span of 3 months, Karimnagar Police Commissionerate registered 30 cases and sized 60 vehicles involved illegal sand mining in Manair River.

In this time period, the police also seized 2 tippers and 14 JCBs, besides seizing 344 lorries and 98 tractor loads of sand stored in illegal dumps. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/crackdown-on-illegal-sand-mining-in-karimnagar/article23468329.ece (7 April 2018)  

Kuthagudem district to use technology to curb illegal mining Warning of stern action against sand smuggling, Kuthagudem district Collector Rajiv Gandhi Hanumanthu on June 13 said that to curb the menace of illegal sand mining, administration will introduce GPS tracking system soon. He was addressing a review meeting with the Revenue, Police, and Mining department officers.

He said it was noticed that the transporters who were lifting the sand from the reaches for the govt works purposes, were found involved in sand smuggling using the coupons of the government. As per the DC, around 51 sand reaches being monitored by the tahsildhars, panchayat secretaries and mining officers. He also explained that there are 3 kinds of reaches in the district located at Godavari river, Kinnarasani and other streams.  http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Khammam-Tab/2018-06-13/GPS-to-curb-illegal-sand-mining-menace-Kothagudem-Collector/388926 (13 June 2018)

Manufactured Sand  National seminar on M-Sand The Mining Engineers Association of India, Hyderabad Chapter with the support of Govt of Telangana  organized a one day National Seminar on “M-Sand: Future Perspective & Its Sustainability” on 30.08.2018 in Hyderabad. The objective of the Seminar was to take a view on the rapid depletion of river sand resources, environmental effects due to river sand mining and to deliberate on sensitizing usage of Manufactured Sand as an alternative to River Sand.

The main objective was to reduce the load on river sand and to encourage manufactured sand as an alternative. The State Govt was tapping mainly 3 sources of natural earth resources viz., granite, basalt and over burden from Singareni Collieries Co Ltd for producing manufactured sand and stowing sand for the purpose of stowing in coal mines. The first manufactured sand plant of India was established here in 2001 and since then the M-Sand utility is in vogue. After re-organization and formation of Telangana State, the State Govt issued guidelines in the Sand Policy making it mandatory to use manufactured sand to a tune of 50% in all Govt works.

About 7.5 MT of M-Sand was produced per annum which was reducing the load on river sand in the State and catering about 50% of the requirement. The M-Sand is utilized by the builders in public & private works, ready mix concrete makers, Hyderabad Metro Rail works etc. Hyderabad Metro Rail, project of the Telangana State Govt was being constructed by exclusively using M-Sand. The Engineering Depts in the State were also using the M-Sand in public works. http://overseasnews.in/2018/08/29/mining-govt-of-telangana-is-organizing-a-one-day-national-seminar-on-m-sand-future-perspective-its-sustainability/ (29 Aug. 2018)

Making a presentation at the seminar BRV Susheel Kumar, Director of Mines and Geology, said that the chemical characteristics and strength of M-Sand are similar to river sand. M-Sand has a silt content of around 0.2 per cent and water absorption of 1.6 per cent, as compared to 0.45 per cent and 1.15 per cent respectively in river sand, he said. “Mortar made of M-Sand shows higher compressive strength and modulus for masonry, over those of river sand. “It is cost effective as well. While M-Sand is sold for Rs 700 to 900 per tonne, river sand costs Rs 1200 to 1400 per tonne,” Kumar pointed out.

Considering all these factors, organisations like GMR and L&T Metro Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd have been extensively using M-Sand for their projects in the city. There are nearly 84 M-Sand manufacturing units in Hyderabad and neighbouring Ranga Reddy, Medchal, Yadadri, Bhongir and Sanga Reddy districts. These units are producing nearly 7 MT M-Sand per annum. https://telanganatoday.com/m-sand-the-alternate-for-river-sand (1 Sept. 2018)

Andhra Pradesh Sand Mining Incidents

Illegal sand mining in Krishna The face book post of Satyanarayana Bolisetty mentions of large scale sand mining taking along several kms of Krishna river with the use of heavy machines. https://plus.google.com/109593364842051008515/posts/Rm7yg51GqN5  (25 Dec. 2017)

Raids send sand prices soaring in E. Godavari Sand prices in East Godavari district went up from ₹2,000 to ₹3,000 per unit within days of multi-departmental teams commencing raids on sand reaches and ordering the closure of over a dozen reaches. Delivered on the spot over a phone call till a week ago, it required an advance booking of 2-3 days. It all began with a wordy duel that took place between Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Council Reddy Subrahmanyam and YSRCP MLA from Kothapeta Chirla Jaggi Reddy during the general body meeting of the Zilla Parishad on May 24, over the issue of illegal sand mining. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/raids-send-sand-prices-soaring-in-e-godavari/article24027983.ece (30 May 2018)

Residents raise voice against illegal mining in Vamasdhara river The floods in Vamasadhara exposed the illegal sand mining in the district, but local officials were trying to hush-up the issue. On July 15 night, flood water level increased in Vamsadhara river by that time sand was being loaded into 25 lorries by four earth movers and all the vehicles, including 53 workers, were stranded in the water. Issue came to light in the early hours of July 16 and workers were rescued from the river, but vehicles remained stranded.

The report further mentioned that indiscriminate sand mining with heavy machinery was continuing at Purusottapuram reach in Vamsadhara river. Sand was being transported to Visakhapatnam which defeated the aim of the govt in implementing free sand policy. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-07-29/Officials-keeping-mum-on-sand-mafia/401886  (29 July 2018)

Action sought on illegal sand mining Following the incident, the Aditya Institute of Technology and Management professor and Partivartan Trust president Chintada Ravikumar on July 23 held an agitation at Amudalavalasa and asked the govt to take immediate action on the influential people involved in illegal sand mining in Vamasadhara river in Purushottampuram town.

Parivartan Trust head Chintada Ravikumar organsing agitation in Amadalavalasa seeking stern action on people involved in illegal sand mining
Parivartan Trust head Chintada Ravikumar organsing agitation in Amadalavalasa seeking stern action on people involved in illegal sand mining  (Photo Credit: ARRANGEMENT/The Hindu)

He alleged that the police dept had filed cases against workers and drivers while ignoring action on the lorry owners, earth movers, who were responsible for transporting sand during the night. He sought a high-level inquiry into the incident since political parties were looting the district’s natural resources. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/tough-action-sought-on-illegal-sand-mining/article24498744.ece  (24 July 2018)

CCTVs to curb illegal sand mining Following directions from the govt, the Srikakulam district administration planned to arrange CCTV cameras at sand reaches to prevent violations. The district administration took this decision in view of 16 sand lorries and four earth movers ventured into mining violating all established norms in Vamsadhara river at Purusottapuram village in Sarubujjili mandal of Amudalavalasa Assembly segment on July 15 night.  This incident exposed the failure of mines, police, revenue and district administration in preventing illegal mining operations and ban on use of machines at sand reaches. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-09-05/CCTVs-to-curb-illegal-sand-mining-/410035  (5 Sept. 2018)

Vigilance officials seized illegal mining vehicles Vigilance and enforcement department officials seized 3 earth movers and 7 lorries at Bhyri and Kharajada villages in Srikakulam rural mandal in Vamsadhara river on Nov. 12. The vehicles are being used for illegal sand mining in Vamsadhara river. Vigilance officials seized vehicles and handed over it to mines and geology officials. https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Latest-News/2018-11-12/Vigilance-officials-seized-illegal-sand-mining-vehicles-/440695  (12 Nov. 2018) 

Sand mining posing a threat to water schemes Illegal and indiscriminate sand mining is posing a threat to drinking water schemes in Nagavali river in Regidi mandal. The Rural Water Supply department is maintaining well and filtration galleries at Boddavalasa village in the river under Sankili panchayat limits in Regidi mandal.

The water schemes are supplying safe and protected drinking water to 62 villages in Regidi and Rajam mandals. As per guidelines, sand shall not be excavated from the river below 500 metres distance from the wells and filtration galleries. But sand mining is going on below 100 m from the wells & filtration galleries. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-09-01/Sand-mining-posing-a-threat-to-water-schemes-/409092  (1 Sept. 2018)

Polticians involved in illegal mining  The Andra Pradesh politicians alleged that the ruling and also opposition leaders are involved in the sand mining scam. Party senior leader Somu Veeraju said that though the CM N Chandrababu Naidu claimed to have introduced a sand policy, illegal mining of sand is unabated. It was alleged that Rs 1000 Crore worth scam was taken place in the last four years.  http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Latest-News/2018-09-08/Ruling-and-Opposition-Involves-In-Sand-Mining-Scam–AP-BJP/410757  (8 Sept. 2018)

Politicians spar over illegal mining in Tadepalligudem Mild tension prevailed at Jagannadhapuram village in Tadepalligudem mandal with BJP and TDP leaders and activists staging protests and counter protests over alleged illegal sand transportation. Trouble started when Tadepalligudem MLA P Manikyala Rao, following information that some local TDP leaders were illegally transporting sand extracted from a tank, went to Jagannadhapuram village and stopped 30 lorries.

BJP MLA P Manikyala Rao staging a protest against illegal sand mining at Jagannadhapuram village of Tadepalligudem mandal (Express Image)

After stopping the lorries, the MLA informed the local revenue officials, who, according to reports, did not turn up to look into the allegations illegal sand extraction. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2018/nov/28/bjp-mla-tdp-activists-spar-over-illegal-sand-mining-1904338.html  (28 Nov. 2018)

Government Efforts

Govt to use GPS to curb mining menace In an endeavour to curb the menace of illegal sand mining, the Andhra Pradesh Govt decided to introduce GPS tracking system by July 2017. State minister R Sujayakrishna Ranga Rao said that there were 150 notified sand reaches and that 54 check posts were established to prevent illegal transport of sand. He further said that geo referral policy was being brought for all major minerals and the permissions for mining activities were being given through auction through e-permit. http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2018/may/31/illegal-sand-mining-andhra-pradesh-to-use-gps-to-curb-menace-1821867.html (31 May 2018)

Penalty of 1 lakh for unauthorised sand mining Sub-Collector CM Saikanth Varma said that steps were initiated to stop unauthorised sand mining in urban sand reaches. He also said that a penalty of Rs 1 lakh will be imposed on the respective lorry owners who transports the sand without proper permissions.  

Night Task Force team was constituted with two village revenue officers and one village secretary to combat unauthorised sand mining. Many complaints relating to unauthorised sand mining was coming from Sitanagaram mandal.  12 sand laden lorries were seized there. https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-07-19/Penalty-of-1-lakh-for-unauthorised-sand-mining-Rajamahendravaram-Sub-Collector-/399310  (19 July 2018)

4 sand mining firms raided, searches on in Andhra On Oct. 25, 2018, four sand mining companies faced massive tax raids at nearly 100 locations in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, for allegedly exporting beach minerals and routing money abroad. Owner of News 7 Tamil, a channel VV Mineral of S Vaikundarajan, was also raided.

The other businessmen have been identified as Sukumar, Chandresan and Manikandan. Tax officials said illegal profit earned by the companies was subsequently added into investments in other businesses of these groups such as spinning and sugar mills and hotels. They said some overseas transactions by these companies, made in alleged violation of tax laws, are also under the scanner. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/tax-raids-target-4-sand-mining-firms-at-100-sites-in-tamil-nadu-andhra-pradesh-for-allegedly-exporti-1937241  (25 Oct. 2018)

Court Orders

HC stays sand mining in Vangalapudi  Wondering how even survey numbers of land were made to play a mischievous role in the indiscriminate sand mining, the Hyderabad HC on March 6, 2018 stayed sand mining in Vangalapudi village of Sitanagaram mandal in East Godavari. The bench of Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan Justice and Justice K Vijaya Lakshmi pronounced this interim order while hearing a PIL that charged the authorities with conniving with sand miners and allowing them to mine at sites that are unconnected to their leasehold areas.

In the last hearing, the bench had asked petitioner’s counsel N Sridhar Reddy to deposit 50000 for his allegations to be verified by a district judge. The petitioner’s allegation was that the sand miners got lease for mining in survey number 205/1, but were mining elsewhere in the village. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amaravati/hc-stays-sand-mining-in-andhra-pradeshs-vangalapudi/articleshow/63197758.cms (7 March 2018)

SC issues notice on petition seeking Court monitored probe The SC on July 9, 2018 sought Centre’s response on a plea seeking a court-monitored SIT or CBI probe into the alleged illegal mining being carried out by the Trimex Group in Andhra Pradesh. The notice was issued by a bench comprising Justice M.B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta on the petition filed by former Energy Secretary EAS Sarma, who was represented by Advocates Pranav Sachdeva and Prashant Bhushan. Mr. Sarma has alleged that the company was illegally mining precious minerals, flouting mining laws and environmental safeguards. This has resulted in the loss of thousands of crores of rupees to the govt exchequer, as well as destruction of sand dunes, wildlife and ecology. The company had been carrying out mining activities illegally in an area which is under dispute.

Subsequently, Vigilance and Enforcement Department of Govt of Andhra Pradesh had also undertaken an enquiry in 2016, recommending recovery of Rs. 1295.63 crores from the company for illegal excavation of beach sand minerals, suspension of mining, and action against officers who allowed illegal mining. However, no action had been taken so far by the authorities. The petitioner also sought a direction to the company to “repair, restore and re-vegetate the area”, and demanded recovery of the illegally accumulated wealth. https://www.livelaw.in/illegal-mining-in-andhra-pradesh-sc-issues-notice-on-petition-seeking-court-monitored-probe-read-order/  (9 July 2018)

Summary The overview lists several instances of illegal sand mining in Telangana. As per available information three people lost their lives in illegal sand mining related incidents in 2018. The government is seen emphasizing on the use of technological solutions to curb illegal sand mining. The reports suggest that Telangana has taken a great leap towards manufacturing and use of M-sand as an viable alternative to river sand.

Indeed M-Sand is being presented as a solution to growing sand scarcity amid increasing demand. It’s a new issue. Public at large are mostly unaware of it. The impact on environment during production of M-Sand is still not known. Is it really a sustainable solution to river sand or will it lead to other social & environmental complications? 

Similarly the available media reports highlight that Andhra Pradesh is experiencing all the common issues associated with sand mining. The demand is growing. Prices are looking up. Supply is inadequate. Illegal sand mining is affecting rivers and villagers.

IMG_20171225_081442
Mechanized mining in Krishan river (Image 25 Dec. 2017, by Satyanarayana Bolisetty)

The reports also show that the government has failed in checking the illegal sand mining. Large scale illegal mining is also reported in Krishna river, while Vamsadhara river saw mechanized extraction of minor minerals even during monsoon. Similarly the indiscriminate sand mining was reported as posing a threat to drinking water schemes based on Nagavali river in Regidi mandal. Srikakulam district and beaches in the state were particularly at the receiving end of unsustainable mining.

As usual, there were reports showing political parties either involved or facilitating illegal mining. On solution part, Andhra government, like other Indian states, is seen rallying behind technologies in form of drones, GPS etc. to stop the menace of illegal mining. It seems that the investigation of Income Tax department regarding illegal beach mining has reached no conclusion. Likewise there were no significant legal interventions or judicial orders bringing any significant changes in prevalent scenario. 

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

End Notes:- As part of annual exercise since 2015, SANDRP is presenting year end overview on the issue of impact of sand mining in India’s rivers. This year we have been publishing these reports in a state wise format. Before Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, we have uploaded illegal sand mining overview for following states:

  1. Punjab Sand Mining 2018 Overview: SAD SAGA OF STATE FAILURE
  2. Rajasthan: SC Banned Riverbed Mining through 2018: Centre & State Show No Concern
  3. Gujarat Sand Mining 2018: Can Technology alone help Stop Illegal Sand Mining?
  4. Uttar Pradesh Sand Mining 2018: Key NGT orders slap for MoEF
  5. Madhya Pradesh Sand Mining 2018: Unprecedented Violence by Sand Mafia
  6. Karnataka Sand Mining 2018: Hopeless, But Action Packed!
  7. Tamil Nadu Sand Mining 2018: Story of Nexus exposed by a brave Journalists
  8. Kerala Sand Mining 2018: How a 17 year Allapad girl became anti sand mining icon
  9. Maharashtra Sand Mining 2018: Panegaon shows Way To stop Illegal Sand Mining
  10. East India Sand Mining 2018: Will NGT order help restore Subarnarekha River?
  11. North East India Sand Mining 2018: Emerging threat to Rivers

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