Sand Mining

3 Kids Drowned to Death in a DAY In Illegal Sand Mining Pits

Illegal sand mining operations continue to take the lives of innocent people in India. So far there have been dozens of violent incidents and tragic accidents involving illegal sand mining activities.

The latest in the series is death of 3 kids in two different Indian states on a single day of July 7, 2019. The first incident killing two adolescents is reported from Yamuna Nagar district of Haryana state. As per the reports, five children from Kanalsi village had gone to the river for bathing in the evening of July 7. 

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Local media reports on the incident.

The incident occurred near the ghat (constructed river bank) of the village which is also the confluence area of Yamuna and Somb rivers. The area is facing unprecedented scale of illegal mining over the past two years. The mechanized mining has created dip pits in the riverbed.

11 7 19 GE 11 2019 Image
Google Earth image (Nov. 2018) of the area.

The kids were unaware of the danger and three of them slipped into one such pit accidentally. While one somehow got out, the two others named Suneel (15 years old) and Shanty (14) got drowned reportedly in 30 feet deep pit. Body of one boy was found after nightlong search operations while the others’ was found one day later near the incident spot.  

As per Dainik Bhaskar, Hindi Daily report, a huge stretch of riverbed in the area is full of pits as deep as 30-50 feet created due to illegal mechanized sand mining.

This is same area where the teams of Punjab and Chandigarh High Court and Delhi Jal Board on separate visits in first week of May 2019 had found illegal bunds created by sand mafia. Following the inspection, the district administration was forced to take action against five such structures hampering the River Yamuna flow.

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Dainik Bhaskar (9 7 19) report mentioning how administration failed to check illegal sand mining.

This google earth 3 D animation shows scale of mining in the area.

Through tweets SANDRP has brought the issue to the notice of Chief Minister, Haryana and Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi for appropriate actions.

However apparently no action was taken. Locals also say that the illegal sand mining is happening with full support from the Haryana Government.

On the same day, in a second such incident a 10 year old boy was drowned to death after falling in a pit created by illegal sand mining in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal state.

Leesh river
Google map of Leesh river in Jalpaiguri

The boy named Eyas Oraon, a resident of a tea garden in Jalpaiguri, tripped and fell into the 15 feet by 30 feet trench while playing with friends on an islet of the Leesh river on July 7 afternoon reads a report from NDTV. According to the sources, the pit was illegally dug to extract sand and rocks for construction work, however the local administration remained in denial mode.

Over the past many years, there have been several cases where village children die after accidentally falling into deep sand mining pits. Despite this nothing substantial has been done to deter the re-occurrence of such avoidable tragedies. 

While the district administration forbids villagers from bathing in the rivers, it fails to stop the creation of these death pits by illegal sand mining in riverbed. The respective state governments are also solely responsible for such untimely deaths of young kids as they tend to overlook river and community issues while allowing unsustainable mining projects. These incidents also show the blatant violation of Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines 2016 of the Union Environment Ministry disallowing sand mining beyond 10 feet depth. But no action is expected even for this violation.

Composed & compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

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