Feature image: Extraction of sand from the banks of the Tunga near Chibbalagudde in Tirthahalli taluk posing a threat to the fish sanctuary that hosts 27 species of fish. (The Hindu)
2019 Karnataka sand mining overview showed that the incidents of illegal sand mining were on the rise, state was reportedly consuming around 70 MT (Million Tons) sand annually while the govt was able to produce 30 MT. The govt was losing about Rs 200 crore to illegal sand mining, while about 29,000 cases of illegal stone quarrying and sand mining were detected in past 3 years. Towards the end of 2018, the govt was seen working on 4 separate mining policies for sand, granite, building material and stone crushers to stop the revenue losses.
There were discussions in govt circle promoting M-Sand and importing sand from Malaysia. M-Sand was being produced in 18 districts of state. However there was no clarity on its quality and usage. MSIL had imported 8000 T of sand and sold half of it. Despite facing sand dearth, the govt in Sept. 2018 decided to send imported sand to Kerala. About 0.15 MT Malaysian sand was stuck at two ports.
Amid stories of nexus, violence and raids most of the rivers in the state have been bearing the brunt of unsustainable mining. The districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi were apparently most affected. Illegal mining activities also led to collapse of first ever bridge in coastal area on Phalguni river. In spite of Coastal Regulations Zone (CRZ) rules, 75% of sand mining in the coastal districts was illegal. https://sandrp.in/2019/02/13/karnataka-sand-mining-2018-hopeless-but-action-packed/
Important Developments of 2019-20
Impact on River eco-system, groundwater
Illegal extraction affects clam collection The illegal sand extraction in River Nethravathi, including at ‘Kudru’ areas in Ullal, have taken a toll on traditional fishing carried out by many families. The families were eking out a livelihood by catching clam (locally called maruvai). Illegal sand extraction has severely affected livelihood of families as clams and fish are not available in the river for a year now.
The reduction in catch had led to livelihood crisis and uncertainty. “We go for fishing before dawn and it has become painstaking nowadays. The clam deposits have dwindled drastically as a result of illegal sand extraction. We need to protect our resources to ensure our livelihood,” a resident emphasised.
Despite our complaints to the authorities, illegal sand mining continues unchecked, another resident Naveen D’Souza rued. “We were catching fish and clams using small crafts. The illegal sand extraction has destroyed the fish and clams. Now, we are not able to collect clams in large quantities,” he said. https://www.deccanherald.com/illegal-sand-extraction-affects-clam-collection-723916.html (18 March 2019)
Illegal mining deepens water pain Several villages and towns situated near major rivers faced acute water shortages. Experts and officials blamed the powerful sand mafia for the problem, saying excessive dredging in and around rivers had contributed to the problem. Illegal dredgers were scooping up huge quantities of sand from riverbeds to satisfy the construction industry’s ravenous hunger for the humble commodity.
“This [water scarcity around rivers] is unheard-of. It’s happening largely because of the indiscriminate sand mining,” said a senior official of the state ecology & environment dept.
Stringent rules and restrictions, including orders by the SC, HC and NGT against excessive sand mining, have failed to curb the incidents. Activists say poor enforcement, thanks to a nexus between the sand mafia, police and local politicians, has resulted in a thriving illegal trade of river sand. The state government’s decision to import the material from other countries and promote manufactured sand, or M-Sand, have failed to reduce the demand.
As per an official at the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management, sand in the riverbed acts as an aquifer, storing a portion of the river water, which can be used in summer through infiltration wells. “When this sand is removed or reduced through mining, summer flows in rivers decrease, affecting groundwater levels in borewells and wells on the banks,” he said.
According to a former police officer, who had a brush with the sand mafia, every illegal operator was paying Rs 10,000 per lorry load to local officials, and quarrying limits were routinely flouted. “If 25 lorry loads is the permitted limit at a place, over 100 are carried out. This cannot happen without the tacit support of local legislators and officials,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/illegal-sand-mining-deepens-parched-states-water-pain/articleshow/69763906.cms (13 June 2019)
Resurgent mafia, ever-changing rules Sand mining rules have undergone a number of changes. The state made major amendments to the Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession (Amendment) Rules, 1994, in 2016 and added a separate chapter detailing the permission for quarrying ordinary sand in riverbed, patta land, removal of sand bars in CRZ areas of coastal districts, and special provisions for production of M-sand as well as for transportation of sand and M-sand.
Previous govt had unveiled a new sand mining policy in 2014 which gave more power to district-level officials to curb illegal activities, legal miners remain on tenterhooks while illegal ones gained the upper hand courtesy ‘protection’ from political bosses.
In March, 2018, the joint secretary, Centre, Niranjan Kumar Singh, had released the draft sand mining recommendations. Since then, the tender-cum-forward auction method has been used in Karnataka. But the political system interfered with that too. The NECF had estimated that Dakshina Kannada exported sand valued at Rs 800 crore, Udupi at Rs 620 crore, & Uttara Kannada Rs 570 crore. https://www.firstpost.com/india/illegal-sand-mining-part-4-karnataka-continues-to-bear-brunt-of-resurgent-mafia-ever-changing-government-rules-6015541.html (2 Feb 2019)
Illegal mining operations ravaged environment Even in Karnataka, the sand mafia’s operation continues without much intervention by law enforcement personnel or the excise department. Reports have hinted that every single local official in the state is paid anywhere around ₹10,000 per lorry load of sand. The flow of these payments is maintained across districts and allows the sand mafia to flout quarrying limits without as much breaking into a sweat.
Concerned officers are even made to allow more lorry loads than required to take sand out of a particular quarry. Estimates suggest that Karnataka’s demand for sand comes out to be about 65 million metric tonnes each year whereas the state-sponsored supply is only able to provide 45 MT of this demand. The highest number of illegal mining operations have been reported from areas near major rivers such as Cauvery, Krishna, Nehtravati, Kabini, Tungabhadra, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha and Hemavathi. https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/repercussions-of-illegal-sand-mining-on-environment-in-tamil-nadu-and-karnataka/480230 (31 Aug. 2019)
Illegal mining wreaks havoc in Bengaluru suburbs, coastal districts Karnataka is one of the leading states, after Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra to witness illegal mining.
Between 2014 and 2019, the Department of Mines and Geology (DM&G) registered 2,030 cases of illegal sand mining, 34,786 cases of illegal sand transportation and about 1,049 case of illegal sand storage across the state. A total of 14,786 cases were lodged in these five years. A total of ₹77 crore fine was collected. Contractors use heavy metal objects to dig 15-25 feet trench to mine sand violating CRZ rules in the coastal districts. https://thefederal.com/analysis/2019/10/08/illegal-sand-mining-wreak-havoc-in-bangalore-suburbs-coastal-districts/ (8 Oct. 2019)
Illegal sand mining dominates poll campaign In the Ranebennur constituency in Haveri district, drama appeared to be centred on illegal sand mining, with opposing candidates alleging the involvement of each other in the activity. The River Tungabhadra scythes through the taluk and the banks of the river for roughly 25km, from Kuppelur to Choudayyadanapur has huge deposits of quality soil. Residents alleged that officials of the district administration and local officials were hand in glove with those involved in the illegal extraction of sand.
Contractor Malatesh Veerapur pointed to the noticeable absence of the word ‘development’ in most election speeches. “It is not the dominating theme in the campaign here. The contestants are telling the people that they will put a stop to illegal sand mining if they win the election,” Veerapur said.
Hanumanthappa Kabbar, chief of the Ranebennur unit of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha also alleged that illegal sand mining was rampant in Makanur, Mudenur, Kuppelur, Mustur, Haranagiri and Anveri villages in Ranebennur taluk. “It is the people in these villages who are bearing the cost of this illegal activity going on unchecked,” said Kabbar. State president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and chief of the Akhandanand wing of Hasiru Sene Shivaputra Malladad said that the miscreants were emboldened by the failure of the law enforcement authorities to initiate legal action. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/illegal-sand-mining-dominates-poll-campaign-in-ranebennur/articleshow/72099137.cms (18 Nov. 2019)
Sand extraction poses threat to fish sanctuary Extraction of sand from the banks of the Tunga near Chibbalagudde in Tirthahalli taluk is posing a threat to the fish sanctuary that hosts 27 species of fish. The pools in the river, the perennial water flow, the sandy banks, and the shade provided by fruit-bearing trees on the river bank have all made this an ideal dwelling place for fish. The 3-km stretch of the river here has been declared a fish sanctuary by the State government.
However, the permission sanctioned by the DM&G for extraction of sand from the Tunga riverbank in Dabbanagadde, nearly 100 metres from Chibbalagudde, led to apprehension that it will disturb the flow of water. Vinayak, a resident of Chibbalagudde, said that more than 50 truckloads of sand have been extracted daily since January. This will loosen the riverbank and alter the course of the river, as a result of which the fish may migrate to other places or even cease to exist. Mr. Vinayak said that though the residents had requested the Tirthahalli Tahshildar and the Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner to stop the extraction, no action has been taken.
Bhaskar, an environmental activist, said the opinion of locals and the gram panchayat was not sought prior to the grant of permission for sand extraction. Of the 98 blocks on riverbanks in the district that have rich deposits of sand, permission for extraction has been given only on 37 blocks, for the remaining blocks fall in Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA), as per the recommendations of the Kasturirangan panel on conservation of the Western Ghats. This should apply to Chibbalagudde too, he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sand-extraction-poses-threat-to-fish-sanctuary/article26559483.ece (17 March 2019)
Sand extraction near fish sanctuary halted tentatively The DM&G in May 2019 passed an order to tentatively halt sand extraction from the Tunga in the vicinity of the Chibbalagudde fish sanctuary in Tirthahalli taluk. Following this, the Senior Assistant Director of Department of Fisheries had written to the Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner to stop the sand extraction activities in the vicinity of Chibbalagudde. Acting on the letter, the Deputy Commissioner had directed the department to take necessary action in this regard. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sand-extraction-near-fish-sanctuary-halted-tentatively/article27041465.ece (6 May 2019)
Call for ban on quarrying around KRS dam The technical committee of the Institution of Engineers, Mysuru centre, in August 2019 called upon the govt to ban all quarrying activities around the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dam with immediate effect. A release said frequent loud sounds and vibrations being experienced in and around the dam was owing to unregularised quarry blasting, and such uncontrolled use of explosives create lots of vibration up to a radius of 18 to 20 km.
The Institution of Engineers said it was necessary for the Geological Survey of India to inspect the area and the dam and submit its observation as the KRS was 90 years old. “A dam break analysis should be done to assess its structural stability,” said the release pointing out that as per Supreme Court order, no quarry blasting activity should be allowed within 20 km of major dams.
It said the district administration of Mandya and the State govt should not yield to political pressure and must ban quarrying around the KRS. The technical team warned that blasting in the surrounding and nearby areas causes vibration to the dam structure and could lead to cracks or widen the existing cracks and thus pose danger. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/call-for-ban-on-quarrying-around-krs-dam/article29247361.ece (24 Aug. 2019)
Citizens protest against illegal mining at Doddakere lake In the 1960’s, Bengaluru had over 280 lakes and tanks. Almost 60 years of encroachment, illegal construction, mining and neglect has left Bengaluru’s lakes in a miserable condition. Doddakere Lake located in greater Bengaluru’s Sarjapur area joins the list.
Residents of the area are fighting a battle to save a lake. On Oct 30, 2019 the residents along with citizen activitsts, under the banner ‘Voices Of Sarjapur’, organised a protest march against the illegal sand mining in the lake region. The march was to make residents aware of the importance of such water bodies. https://thelogicalindian.com/news/doddakere-lake/ (30 Oct. 2018)
HC ratifies govt move for only 53 sand permits The High Court (HC) in March 2019 upheld the decision of the district administration on limiting the issue of sand extraction permits in sandbars identified in the Nethravathi and Phalguni CRZ areas to protect traditional sand extractors and also preserve the environment. Questioning the district-level sand monitoring committee’s decision to restrict the number of permits to 53 based on the permit holders’ details of 2011-12, Abdul Majeed and Abdul Gafoor, residents of Kannur on the outskirts of Mangaluru had filed a writ in the HC. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mangaluru/hc-ratifies-govt-move-for-only-53-sand-permits-725382.html (27 Mar 2019)
4 new mining policies to plug revenue leakage In Jan 2019 the govt 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.
Dept sources claimed 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 per cent of the material is not mentioned in the book,” said the official. While the government gets a royalty of 20 per cent on the value of building material shown in the book, the royalty on the remaining 80 per cent is lost. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/govt-to-implement-4-new-mining-policies-to-plug-revenue-leakage/articleshow/67647823.cms (23 Jan. 2019)
Govt moots selling sand online CM BS Yediyurappa in Feb 2020 embarked on preparing a new sand policy that would include modern features such as online procurement and GPS-monitored transportation. The CM convened a secretary-level review meeting where the draft sand policy prepared by a cabinet committee was discussed.
CC Patil, minister for mines and geology hinted at the possibility of Karnataka adopting a major portion of Telangana sand policy, which envisages to govern sand mining at gram panchayat level under the aegis of the dept of mines and geology and online procurement of the mineral. The new sand policy was to be announced in the state budget for 2020-21 to be presented by Yediyurappa on March 5, 2020.
The review meeting assessed that Karnataka consumed around 45 MT sand of which 30 MT comes from M-sand (manufactured sand), a by-product of stone quarrying that is used as a substitute of river sand for concrete construction. A state sand policy formulated in 2017 was in place, but the govt wanted to replace it with more comprehensive one.
According to proposed sand policy, the sand reaches in the gram panchayat purview will be classified in the ranks between first and fifth and license would be issued by the panchayat with conditions based on the ranking. While procurement of the material would be online, its transposition would be done in the govt-empanelled vehicles fitted with GPS system. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/karnataka-government-moots-selling-sand-online/articleshow/74087534.cms (11 Feb. 2020)
State cabinet on April 29, 2020 approved a new sand policy that will now allow mining in tanks, ponds and even patta lands. It was earlier limited to rivers & deltas. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/may/01/cabinet-allows-sand-mining-in-tanks-ponds-patta-lands-2137668.html (01 May 2020)
New sand mining policy slammed While the state govt reasoned that the move would allow for cheap sand for construction purposes for the people, environmental activists said that it would have dangerous results that will impact people’s lives which outweigh the Rs 70 crore revenue that will be added to the govt’s kitty. Flash floods, shortage of drinking water and the death of aquatic animals are some of the immediate impacts environmentalists warned of.
Former IFS officer and noted environmentalist AN Yellappa Reddy said, “This move is highly detrimental to the environment. The sand bed provides an excellent living media for aquatic plants and animals. Most aquatic animals — frogs, crabs, fish — won’t survive otherwise. This will completely kill the biodiversity of these water bodies and without these plants and animals, the water won’t remain clean. They are also important for keeping the dissolved oxygen levels and also without them the organic material that is released into the water won’t be converted into biomass.”
He added that another important aspect was that during heavy rains or when there is a high inflow of water, the speed of runoff is reduced due to the sand. “The sand bed can also trap the organic matter & allow water to infiltrate the earth and recharge groundwater. If we scrape off every grain of sand, then the lake beds will be sterile. When there is heavy rainfall, this can cause flash floods,” he added. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/highly-detrimental-environment-activists-slam-karnataka-s-new-sand-mining-policy-124305 (10 May 2020)
Dakshina Kannada goes online to rein in illegal mining The Dakshina Kannada authorities in May 2019 set up an online sand booking and monitoring system for delivering sand. The website, Sand Bazaar (www.dksandbazaar.com), launched about a month ago and has listed over 100 licensed sand miners alongside the tariff chart and their modes of operation.
With the message, ‘From shore to every door’, buyers could book, track and get the sand delivered. The portal, which can also be accessed through an app, is operated by the District Sand Monitoring Committee (DSMC) and the sand is transported either from Mangaluru or Bantwal. To get sand delivered, buyers have to visit the website, secure the login credentials with Aadhaar, which in turn will generate a six-digit OTP. Subsequently, the buyer has to specify the quantity, quality and the address where the sand has to be delivered.
While at present Google play store hosts PermitHolder-SandBazaar and VehicleOwner-SandBazaar, two separate platforms for stakeholders, officials say there is a plan to integrate the two on the same platform, along with a separate panel for ‘buyers’. At its pilot stage, this was implemented in the Mangaluru CRZ limits. The service were to be expanded across the district soon. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/dakshina-kannada-goes-online-rein-illegal-sand-mining-and-transportation-102626 (29 May 2019)
Task force recommends Article 371(J)-like special status for 11 Western Ghats districts The the Western Ghats Task Force in its final report submitted to the State government recommended 33 points of action for the conservation of the Western Ghats, suggested that the State government pursue with the Centre for special status to these districts that have eco-sensitive forests.
Among the recommendations is to prohibit new projects in the Western Ghats. Currently, the State and Centre are planning a slew of road, railway, power, and river-diversion projects in the forests of the Ghats. “After the completion of the Yettinahole River Diversion project, there should be no more projects. Projects like the diversion of Sharavathi waters to Bengaluru should not be allowed,” said Mr. Chandrashekar, chairman of the task force.
The report recommended the regulation of heavy earth movers and machinery through permits and mandatory installation of GPS, revision of the sand mining policy to exclude areas in the Western Ghats, conservation of sacred groves, development of an eco-tourism policy, establishment of elephant corridors, among others. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/task-force-recommends-article-371j-like-special-status-for-11-western-ghats-districts/article28276226.ece (3 July 2019)
S Sasikanth Senthil put squeeze on sand mining mafia S Sasikanth Senthil won plaudits as a proactive administrator during his tenure as Dakshina Kannada deputy commissioner, but he will be best remembered for his crackdown on the sand mafia that once thrived in the coastal district. In a district that has witnessed the devastating effects of illegal sand mining, Senthil and Dakshina Kannada police busted the sand mafia’s operations in the district’s river valleys, particularly along the banks of the Nethravathi, seizing lakhs of rupees in assets from the perpetrators and severely crippling their operations.
The DC also worked with district-level task force committees to decide on permits for traditional and sustainable sand extraction in blocks identified in CRZs in the district. In May 2019, Senthil launched a portal (www.dksandbazaar.com) and an app to promote transparency in sand extraction while curbing illegal extraction. The administration made it mandatory for all sand extracted from CRZs to be sold only through the portal — largely eliminating the illegal transportation of sand to other states. The portal was such a success that it inspired neighbouring Udupi to emulate the initiative. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/s-sasikanth-senthil-put-squeeze-on-sand-mining-mafia/articleshow/71018848.cms (7 Sept. 2019)
Federation seek probe against IAS officer The Federation of Dakshina Kannada Lorry Owners’ Association, Sand Contractors, Sand Boat Owners, Workers and Construction Material Transport Lorry Owners Association in Sept 2019 sought a detailed probe into the role of former deputy commissioner Sasikanth Senthil in what they termed as serious violations in discharge of his duties as deputy commissioner. The ire of these associations was particularly focussed on his role in regulating sand trade in the district.
Rubbishing these allegations, Senthil said that he does not even want to respond to the charges. “It is a well-known fact that I had chased away the one of the office-bearers of the association when he was involved in illegal act of sand mining and transportation, Senthil said referring to Surendra Kambli, adding the associations were free to go to town with their allegations. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/stakeholders-in-sand-mining-seek-probe-against-senthil/articleshow/71039396.cms (9 Sept. 2019)
‘Act tough against illegal sand extraction’ Minister for DM&G C.C. Patil in Sept 2019 issued a direction to officials to take all necessary steps to check illegal sand extraction in Gadag district. Chairing a meeting of the Gadag District Mining Task Force at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Gadag, the Minister asked the officials to be extra cautious in villages around Shirahatti, Mundargi, Laxmeshwar in the Tungabhadra river basin and in villages of Nargund taluk in the Malaprabha river basin. Mr. Patil directed tahsildars of the respective taluks to work in coordination with the officials of the departments of PWD, Forest and DM&G to ensure that there was no illegal sand extraction in the district. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/act-tough-againstillegal-sand-extraction/article29395399.ece (12 Sept. 2019)
Sand extraction from rivers in CRZ area Sand extraction from rivers in CRZ) was set to see a break for at least of couple of months as the environment clearance (EC) for the same is expiring on different dates this month and fresh clearance was yet to be obtained by the DSMC.
The EC had expired for 12 sand bars, eight in Netravati and four in Phalguni (Gurupura) recently, as a consequence of which sand extraction activities in these areas have stopped completely. While boats used for extraction are brought on the shore, migrant workers staying in temporary sheds have vacated the same, pursuant to directions from the DM&G. The environment clearance for another 10 sand bars would expire by December 26 thus completely bringing to halt sand extraction in CRZ area.
Though the DSMC had completed all other formalities to obtain fresh EC for sand bars, the crucial bathymetry survey to scientifically identify sand bars for the next season was yet to start. The Committee had deferred the decision to award the survey contract last month citing higher quotes; however Deputy Commissioner Sindhu B. Rupesh, who is also the chairman of the committee, had said the process would be expedited. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/sand-extraction-from-rivers-in-crz-area-coming-to-an-end/article30308403.ece (15 Dec. 2019)
Illegal mining kills 22 year old Four persons were booked for the death of a 22-year-old man Ambareesh, a resident of Bhaktharahalli, who was hired to load sand into a tractor trailer from a lake bed around 11 pm on March 18, 2020. The accused had lied to him saying that they have permission from the govt to use sand from the lake bed. After the victim loaded the sand, the tractor driver drove without switching on the headlights of the vehicle on the lake bund, fearing that somebody will notice them. With low visibility, the vehicle toppled and the victim was crushed to death. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/crime/illegal-sand-mining-kills-22-yr-old/articleshow/74739312.cms (21 March 2020)
Bangalore journalists attacked Bengaluru authorities considerably ignored illegal mining taking place within an ESZ of 10 km around the Bannerghatta National Park, Bengaluru. On Dec 6, 2019 when Bengaluru-based journalists tried to capture the unlawful activity, they were threatened and attacked by a few people. Three people have been taken into custody.
The crusher had received clearance from the DM&G, still they had to get a go-ahead from other authorities, which they did not have. The incident took place, when the News 9 TV journalists were leaving the mining site. Soon, the journalists were stopped by a few men, who then abused the TV news crew & asked the crew to even delete the footage. https://thelogicalindian.com/news/journalist-attacked-bannerghatta/ (9 Dec. 2018)
Police-politicians accuse each other Legislators and police in Jan 2019 were at logger-heads over illegal sand mining. 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 threatened 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)
Chandrappa alleged that the police were seizing tractors and 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)
Udupi lorry owner plead for mercy killing Katpady Lorry Owners Association secretary Raghavendra has appealed for euthanasia (mercy killing) for him and his family members, after facing severe problems after District Administration ordered sand ban. “I have struggled a lot and tried to overcome this problem. But day by day the situation is getting worse and I am facing financial issues,” he said. Raghavendra said he had 4 tippers and 12 workers who were dependent on him. Now he has one tipper and is sitting jobless. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=573250 (25 March 2019)
There has been no significant change in terms of reduction in illegal sand mining cases in Karnataka in 2019 and 2020 so far. On the contrary reports have highlighted adverse impacts excessive riverbed mining practices destroying calm collection in Nethravathi river and Chibbalagudde fish sanctuary in Tunga river in turn ruining livelihood options for dependent fisherfolk communities.
Similarly, unsustainable mining practices are seen affecting water resources and water bodies thus leading to water scarcity in adjoining areas. Sadly the new sand mining policy has overlooked the aspect and gone a step further in this direction inviting objections from concerned. The report of mining impact on KRS dam shows why this menace need serious consideration and intervention by citizens as well as elected governments and representatives.
Government has changed the policy and seen promoting online sale and promoting M sand. However, every second report is hinting at political patronage to illegal sand mining business. Some officials have revealed large scale corruption by miners even in auctioned mines where only 20 % of extracted sand is maintained in register causing huge revenue losses to govt.
The official figure continue to account sand consumption around 45 MT while unofficially it was reported to be around 70 MT in 2018. The sand mining policy is being frequently changed apparently with an aim to allow more mining and earn more revenue. While experts recommendation for protection and conservation of ESZ, CRZ and Western Ghats ecology continue to succumb to political indifference.
The raids, attacks and violence involving illegal sand mining seem to have become a routine, ceasing to shake govt, public and judiciary conscience. Death of an innocent labour, attack on reporters and miner seeking mercy petition due to policy failure shows something seriously is wrong the way govt dealing with the issue. The report covering slugfest between higher police officials and MLA from Goolihatti is noteworthy.
The efforts of active collector, activists, citizens, reporters in raising Nethravathi calm collection, Chibbalagudde fish sanctuary, KRS dam, mining around Bengaluru issue and adverse impact of new mining policy are all welcome.
The work by S Sasikanth Senthil IAS officer is appreciable showing that bringing mining activities under rule of law is not a rocket science. Sadly, such officer hurts interest of mining lobby and thus victimized by involved miners and politicians. Senthil too seems have to face all this and is learnt to have quit the service finding it tough to continue work in hostile environment.
Unless govt, administration and citizens wake up to their collective failure and work in unison to evolve an effective riverbed mining governance, there is little hope for river eco-system, fish, clams, dependent people, water security and sustainability.
Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Post script:- Illegal mining unabated in Kali river Illegal sand mining is going on unabated in Kali river basin in Haliyal and Joida taluks in Uttara Kannada district. The three days of heavy rainfall in the district due to Cyclone ‘Nisarga’ has led to increase in soil erosion depositing huge quantity of sand in several streams and rivers including Kali River in Haliyal and Joida taluks. This has resulted in illegal sand mining. At some places the illegally extracted sand is stored in temporary stockyards.
Interestingly this mining activity came to light a couple of days after the district administration issued an order banning sand mining temporarily so that the acquatic lifelike fish can breed well. When contacted, Priyanga, Assistant Commissioner, Karwar, said that she received complaints regarding illegal sand mining and the task force committees have been constituted to address the issue in four taluks — Karwar, Joida, Dandeli and Haliyal.
“Our task forces were not functioning all these days due to Covid-19. Our CCTV has some technical issues. The Haliyal tahsildar agreed to get the CCTV rectified. We have not issued permission and those indulging in sand mining may have obtained Mineral Transit Permit from the Department of Mines and Geology from Belagavi. But we are checking those permits,” she said.
Officials in the DM& in Belagavi said they have not issued any such permits. Officials on conditions of anonymity said that in the wake of the 2019 floods a government order was issued to 17 people to extract sand between October 2019 and June 2020 to extract deposited sand from private land due to erosion. Of them, 9 had violated the order and mined sand outside the district. But it was never meant to stretch beyond the boundaries of the districts, they said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/jun/07/illegal-sand-mining-unabated-in-kali-river-2153352.html (07 June 2020)
Also see SANDRP’s annual sand mining overviews for the year 2019-20 for following states: