The rampant riverbed mining in India have reached the alarming stage where the adverse impacts on river’s eco-system, river based environmental services including fishing, groundwater recharge, potable and irrigational water supply schemes have started affecting the riverine communities in multiple ways. Given the poor track records of responsible agencies in addressing their plight, the dependent, affected and concerned people have been left with no option but to resist. Like in past years, there have been several incidents of riverine people strongly opposing the destructive mining practices in many states in 2022. This overview compiles some such incidents which we could track. The first part of the overview highlighting the adverse impacts of riverbed mining on river eco-system and freshwater species can be seen here.
Kerala Residents intensify protest against sand-mining at Thottappally Local residents under the aegis of Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samithi (KGVES) will intensify their protest against mineral-sand mining at Thottappally. Suresh Kumar S., chairman of the Samithi said the indiscriminate mineral sand-mining had increased the intensity of sea erosion.
“Mineral sand-mining continues unabated at Thottappally pozhi (sandbar at sea mouth) and Thottappally harbour. If it continues like this, 5 village panchayats- Purakkad, Thrikkunnapuzha, Arattupuzha, Ambalapuzha North and Ambalapuzha South will soon be wiped off the map in the near future. Already a number of houses were destroyed and several families got displaced by sea erosion. The government should immediately halt all mining activities at Thottappally and take measures to protect the shoreline,” Mr. Kumar said. The Ekopana Samithi has alleged massive corruption behind sand mining at Thottappally. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/residents-to-intensify-protest-against-sand-mining-at-thottappally/article65627784.ece (12 July 2022)
Director Vinayan lends support to protests Inaugurating the 487th day of the protest, Mr. Vinayan urged the public to take up the issues of the marginalised. He said that he would always stand by the people affected by the mining. Local residents have been alleging that the State govt is engaged in large-scale mineral sand-mining at Thottappally pozhi under the guise of flood mitigation in Kuttanad and the development of Thottappally fishing harbour.
The coastline is prone to severe sea surges and coastal erosion. Residents fear the mining would prove detrimental to people living along the shorelines from Valiazheekal to Punnapra. The sand removed from there gets transported to Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd and Indian Rare Earths Ltd. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/film-director-vinayan-lends-support-to-protests-against-mineral-sand-mining/article65989385.ece (9 Oct 2022)
Hunger strike staged against mineral sand-mining In protest against the ongoing mineral sand-mining on the Alappuzha coast, the KGVES and Ekta Parishad jointly organised a hunger strike in front of Alappuzha district collectorate on Aug. 11 2022. PV Rajagopal of Ekta Parishad alleged that the govt had misused the Disaster Management Act to remove mineral sand at Thottappally. “The govt is engaged in mineral sand-mining at Thottappally in the name of flood mitigation in Kuttanad by invoking various sections under the Disaster Management Act. It is a blatant violation of the law. The mining is causing serious environmental problems. The govt should immediately stop mineral sand-mining at Thottappally,” he said. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hunger-strike-staged-against-mineral-sand-mining/article65757667.ece (11 Aug. 2022)
Protest against mineral sand-mining completes 500 days The indefinite relay satyagraha being staged under the aegis of the KGVES against the mineral sand-mining at Thottappally completed 500 days on Oct. 22 2022. On the occasion, members of the samiti blocked mining at the Thottappally fishing harbour.
It demanded an immediate halt to all mining activities. Local residents have been alleging that the State government is engaged in large-scale mineral sand mining at the pozhi under the guise of flood mitigation in Kuttanad & at the harbour in name of its development. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/protest-against-mineral-sand-mining-completes-500-days/article66044716.ece (22 Oct. 2022)
Residents allege govt letting sand mafia thrive Protests are brewing against ‘mining of sand’ from the Aadi-Pampa and Varattar channels. Residents allege that the govt is allowing the sand mafia to loot sand in the name of the Aadi-Pampa-Varattar rejuvenation project.
The second phase of rejuvenation of the 4.2-km Aadi-Pampa and 9.4-km Varattar, both tributaries of the Pampa river, began earlier in 2022. The rejuvenation of the two channels is aimed at ensuring effective flood management. The project is also expected to ensure the availability of water round the year, which will be a major boost to farming in the Chengannur, Aranmula and Thiruvalla Assembly constituencies in Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts.
Hareesh Kumar, coordinator, Varattar Janakeeya Samithi, says indiscriminate sand mining would spell doom for the channels. “The govt is supposed to desilt the waterbodies to ensure smooth flow of water. Instead, it is removing only sand, especially from the Aadi-Pampa, using dredgers, while the waterbodies continue to remain silted,” Mr. Kumar says. A few years ago, an EIA carried out by an expert team constituted by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment warned against the deepening of Aadi-Pampa and Varattar.
Recently, the Chengannur municipality and the Edanad Janakeeya Samithi moved the Kerala High Court against sand mining. The court sought a report from the District Collector. It has been reported that the district administration submitted a report stating that no sand mining was taking place in Aadi-Pampa and Varattar. Following public protests, sand mining has been suspended. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/protests-brewing-against-sand-mining-at-aadi-pampa-varattar-channels/article65689806.ece (27 July 2022)
Karnataka Fishermen oppose sand mining in rivers under CRZ jurisdiction Leaders of fishermen association have opposed the sand mining in the rivers that come under the ambit of CRZ jurisdiction. The leaders said sand mining would affect fishing & their livelihood. Abdul Taqub, president of Bengre Phalguni Traditional Fishermen Association told reporters that sand mining from rivers destroys algae, shellfish, cowry, prawns which are the lifeline and livelihood of so many fishermen and their families. He said rivers were already facing a shortage of fish. He said due to sand mining fishermen have the danger of losing their lives when they venture into deep river fishing.
Abdul Taqub said they had already met the DC and submitted their request but said they had not got any response. He said there is no provision to undertake sand mining in Netravati, Gurpur and Phalguni rivers. Movement of boats has not been affected. But, he said there are 17 sand mounds from Netravati and Kuloor which come under the DC’s jurisdiction. He said the survey undertaken by the DC is not adequate as there are no fishermen in the panel. He said if permission is given for sand mining in rivers the fishermen would be forced to stage protests. https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay?newsID=1031645 (21 Dec. 2022)
River fishermen urge govt to ban illegal fishing Traditional River Fisheries Association, Dakshina Kannada, urged the govt to initiate legal measures against illegal fishing in rivers in the district. Association president Harish Putran said on April 12 2022 that the fishermen from outside the dist had been fishing in rivers instead of fishing in lakes. In Phalguni & Nethravathi rivers, the fishermen have been using chemicals to catch fish, he charged.
He stressed the need to identify sand blocks in places where fishing is not being carried out. After the sand mining was stopped in the CRZ areas, there are algae that serve as food for fish. The fingerlings and clams are also developing. But, if the permission is given for sand mining again, the fish & clam will be lost, he said. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/mangaluru/river-fishermen-urge-govt-to-ban-illegal-fishing-1100238.html (12 April 2022)
Punjab Villagers force ‘illegal’ miners to leave in Ropar A large number of locals led by Ilaqa Sangharsh Committee members forced dozens of digging machines and tippers to return from the Swan riverbed near Taraf Majari and Bhalan villages on May 29. The villagers said the riverbed had been dug up over 30 foot illegally in the name of desilting by a contractor.
It was around 9 am when villagers noticed nearly one dozen digging machines and over 50 tippers mining sand and gravel from the riverbed. Following the protest, the mining was stopped & only empty tippers were allowed to leave.
While the contractor did not pick the phone despite repeated attempts, Nangal SDO (Mining) Abhishek Kapoor said he had joined only two days ago. Revenue Dept officials had been asked to measure the area & action would be taken after their report was received, he said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/villagers-force-illegal-miners-to-leave-in-ropar-399065 (29 May 2022)
Illegal mining unabated in Ropar villages, locals plan stir After a brief lull since the new state govt took over, residents of Tarf Majari and Bhallan villages are up in arms against start of “illegal mining” in Swan. The residents had formed an Ilaqa Sangharsh Committee in 2021 to oppose illegal mining & said they would start agitation if the authorities failed to check it.
A source in mining business claimed that the mafia had sold material worth more than Rs 100 crore from riverbed from Sept to Dec 2021. From 20-acre area in the Swan river near Tarf Majari village, the mafia had transported material in at least 50,000 tippers in this period. One tipper-load of material fetches a minimum Rs 5,500 at the pit head, he said. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/illegal-mining-unabated-locals-plan-stir-395421 (17 May 2022)
Residents stop over 100 trucks over ‘illegal sand mining’ With Punjab assembly elections round the corner, the issue of illegal sand mining has again surfaced in Dakha constituency, Ludhiana. The residents of Kot Mana & Gorsian Qadar Baksh villages in Jagraon staged a protest on Feb. 12 2022 and stopped nearly 100 trucks, which according to them were ferrying sand illegally quarried from the banks of Sutlej River. Gurpreet Singh, a resident of the village, said that despite being a poll issue, illegal sand mining is going on unabated on the banks of Sutlej River. “On an average, 377 trucks cross the village in an hour. By all legal means, as per the market rate, a profit of ₹10,000 per truck is made by selling the sand. Going by that reason, the sand mafia is making ₹37 lakh per hour,” said Gurpreet Singh.
District mining officer Harjot Singh Walia said that following the preliminary probe, it was found that the truck was ferrying sand collected from a govt approved sand mine located in Jalandhar. “The villagers have demanded demarcation of their land which will be done in the morning,” said Walia. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/ludhiana-residents-of-two-jagraon-villages-stop-over-100-trucks-over-illegal-sand-mining-101644697549338.html (13 Feb. 2022)
Mahapanchayat to oppose desilting of rivers A mahapanchayat held under the banner of the Ilaqa Sangharsh Committee at Darroli Lower village today (Sept. 18) decided to oppose desilting of riverbeds in the area. The participants, including sarpanches and panches, said they would not allow desilting of rivers near their villages as it had already destroyed the ecosystem and lead to depletion of groundwater. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/will-oppose-desilting-of-rivers-sangharsh-panel-433048 (19 Sept. 2022)
Two days after arresting contractor Rakesh Kumar Chaudhary allegedly for illegal mining, the police today registered an extortion case against six members of the Ilaqa Sangharsh Committee today. Stone crusher owner Dalbir Singh had alleged that some committee members had extorted more than Rs 2 crore from stone crusher owners. The committee had been formed by residents of several villages, including Bhalan, Bhanam and Taraf Majari near Nangal, to oppose illegal mining in the area. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/6-members-of-ilaqa-sangharsh-committee-booked-for-extortion-450646 (14 Nov. 2022) Protesting against the registration of a case registered against Vishal Saini, a member of Ilaqa Sangharsh Committee, advocates of Ropar, Nangal and Anandpur Sahib went on strike on Nov. 14. They claimed that Saini had been implicated in a false case because he had raised voice against the state government. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/case-against-ilaqa-sangharsh-committee-member-false-lawyers-suspend-work-451047 (15 Nov. 2022)
Himachal Pradesh Palampur villagers stop illegal mining Residents of Garder village of Thural area forced a contractor to stop “illegal mining” in Neugal river. The contractor has been engaged by the IPH Dept to construct water tanks for lifting drinking water from the Neugal river for a water supply project. The residents alleged that the contractor had been digging the riverbed using heavy machinery to extract stone and sand to be used in the construction work. On June 17 2022, a number of villagers reached the spot & forced the contractor to stop the work. They asked him to remove the heavy machinery from the river. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/palampur-residents-force-contractor-to-stop-illegal-mining-in-neugal-river-404841 (18 June 2022)
Thural villagers protest against mining in Neugal Villagers of three panchayats of Thural tehsil of Palampur subdivision protested the illegal mining going on in the Neugal river. They said the illegal activity posed a threat to the bridge linking a dozen villages. The villagers, comprising mostly youths and women from Bathan, Gharana and Bharnata panchayats, assembled in large numbers at Thural. Later, they thronged the mining site along with police and IPH officials and apprised them about the illegal mining going on in private & govt land. IPH & police officials assured that necessary action would be taken against the mining mafia.
The villagers alleged that despite ban, large-scale mining was going on unabated in the Neugal river under the shelter of the Mining Department. The protesters further said that roads, irrigation channels, cremation grounds and village pastures had been badly damaged because of continuous mining. The PWD, the IPH, revenue and forest depts, which had suffered maximum damage to their property, had become mute spectators & failed to act against the culprits, they alleged. Speaking on behalf of villagers, Seema Devi, pradhan, Sat Pal, up-pradhan of Batthan and Shammi Rana, pradhan, Gharana panchayat, said they would continue their fight against the illegal mining till it was stopped & the matter was resolved. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/thural-villagers-protest-mining-in-neugal-463662 (23 Dec. 2022)
Illegal mining to be major poll plank in Kangra valley Panchayats, environment bodies and local NGOs are opposing illegal mining in Jaisinghpur and Sulaha areas. They have threatened to boycott political parties having links with the mafia and those responsible for encouraging illegal quarrying. Also, those helping the mafia in getting permission for the installation of stone crushers etc will be boycotted, they say. In a midnight raid on the mafia last week, 18 vehicles were seized and 22 persons were arrested. Rivers like Neugal and Beas are the worst affected, despite the fact that the NGT has imposed a complete ban on mining in these rivers. An Executive Engineer of the IPH Department admits that illegal mining is posing a serious threat to several irrigation and drinking water supply schemes in Palampur and Thural divisions. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/illegal-mining-to-be-major-poll-plank-in-kangra-valley-369108 (12 Feb. 2022)
Help tame mining mafia in Kangra, Modi urged Representatives of different environment organisations of Kangra told media persons that during a visit to the state three years ago, the PM had promised to rid Himachal of the mining mafia, which was causing immense revenue losses and spoiling the environment. However in the past four years, the mining mafia had flourished and rivers such as the Beas, Neugal, Baner, Binwa, and Mandh and the Mol khud had been badly affected. Deep trenches made with the help of heavy machinery could be seen on the riverbeds, as illegal mining continues with impunity. In a representation forwarded to the PMO, they requested the PM that the Neugal river, which is considered the lifeline of over 100 villages of the Palampur region, had become a victim of illegal mining. The river also feeds dozens of drinking water and irrigation supply schemes in Palampur & Thural divisions of the Irrigation and Public Health Dept. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/help-tame-mining-mafia-modi-urged-404504 (17 June 2022)
Despite ban mining rampant in Neugal river Despite a complete ban on mining and quarrying in the Neugal, the practice is rampant. The state govt has stayed the allotment of the mining lease on the directions of the NGT, but large-scale illegal mining and quarrying is still going on unchecked in the Naun, Bairghatta Dhook, Dhaniara, Lahar & Umri areas of Thural tehsil. The govt had auctioned sites in Dhook, Dhaniara & Lahar in Jan 2019. The mining lease has been granted only on one site. On the 2nd site, illegal mining is going on for lack of any check from the authorities. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/despite-ban-illegal-mining-rampant-in-neugal-river-402230 (09 June 2022)
Tamil Nadu Villagers ask admin to withdraw plans for sand mine On June 2, a public opinion meeting for setting up a sand mine along the river at Yenathimangalam village was held. An environmental assessment (EA) by the Public Works Department (PWD) was presented. However, youngsters and environmental activists opposed the proposal as the groundwater levels in the surrounding villages would run low. Environmental activist A Akilan said, “The district’s groundwater level has already gone down to about 500 m in areas near the Thenpennai river, because of illegal sand mining in the last 10 years.”
According to the youngsters’ petition, “The current EA had been done by the PWD alone, and impact on agriculture in the area was done by officials. We need an agricultural impact report indicating irrigation status, and harvest rates of crops in the proposed area for the last 10 years. Further, another report is needed on future plans for the villages.” The petition further stated that agriculture here reduced in the last decade. “If the proposed sand mine is allowed, all villages will face drought in the next five years along with a severe threat of flooding in the monsoons,” it added. Officials said that the issue will be resolved after an investigation. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jun/09/withdraw-plans-for-sand-mine-on-thenpennai-river-bed-youngsters-petition-administration-2463537.html (9 Jun 2022)
Engineers association urges govt not to permit sand mining The PWD Senior Engineers’ Association has urged the govt to promote the usage of M-sand or imported sand from Indonesia & Malaysia rather than depleting the river sand. Speaking on the side lines of an awareness programme on development of water resources across in TN in Tiruchi on July 30 2022, A. Veerappan, State secretary of the association, comprising retired engineers of PWD, appealed to the govt not to permit river sand mining.
Veerappan said, TN is often considered a water-scarcity state, but this is not the case in reality. “The State can become self-sufficient if we implement rainwater-harvesting methods and carry out various developmental projects. We can increase storage capacity substantially if the 39,000 lakes, ponds and kanmois were desilted and deepened,” he added. The association urged the govt to remove encroachments from water bodies else they would lead to severe water scarcity. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/pwd-senior-engineers-association-urges-govt-not-to-permit-sand-mining/article65674672.ece (23 Jul 2022)
Villagers upset over rampant mining irregularities Villagers from Paaluran Padugai have alleged rampant sand mining corruption is taking place at Kollidam bay, which is a tributary of the river Cauvery. An area district secretary said that PWD officials & the company extracting the sand are involved in corruption through which they are selling more than the permitted amount of sand for exorbitant prices. After Cauvery water reaches Mettur dam, it is diverted to Kollidam, which is the life source for lakhs of people in Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Sivagangai, Ramanathapuram and Mayiladuthurai districts.
Environmentalists say that the govt permitted a sand quarry at Kollidam, which was acquired for lease by SR Group. An app called TNSands was launched to make the process of buying sand transparent. As per norms, one unit of sand was to be sold for Rs 1,050 & the buyer are provided the vehicle details including chassis number & construction details to get the sand. A six-wheeler is allowed to carry 2 units of sand, while a ten-wheeler is allowed to carry 3 units. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/villagers-tamil-nadu-kollidam-upset-over-rampant-sand-mining-irregularities-1961424-2022-06-12 (12 Jun 2022)
Ban heavy machine for sand mining, allow manual methods Urging the State govt to stop quarrying sand from Vaippar river using heavy machines, activists petitioned District Collector Dr K Senthil Raj on Nov. 14 2022. “Quarrying by large machines and transporting by lorries has evidently depleted the natural wealth of the river ecosystem in the State, which will be a desert soon if it continues. Manual quarrying, however, should be allowed as river sand is the major source of raw material for the construction industry. The quarried sand can then be transported through bullock carts to the nearby stockyard,” said activist Gandhi Mallar. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/nov/15/ban-heavy-machine-use-for-sand-mining-allow-manual-methods-2518276.html (15 Nov. 2022)
Members of Desiya Thennidia Nadigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam staged a protest in front of the Collector’s Office on Feb 28 2022 to press for their charter of demands, including stoppage of sand mining from Cauvery & Kollidam rivers as the construction material was being transported to Karnataka & Kerala. Sand mining from the 2 rivers should be stopped, demanded P.Ayyakannu, the association president. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/farmers-association-want-sand-mining-to-be-stopped-in-cauvery-kollidam/article65094626.ece (28 Feb 2022)
Odisha Women take up fight against illegal sand mining A large number of locals, mostly women, are fighting the sand mafia operating on the banks of Mahanadi river in Mahakalapada block, Kendrapara district. Residents of Patalipanka, Chanda, Kodakana and other villages stopped sand mining by unscrupulous elements with help of JCB machines near a bridge at Nilachal Market on Dec 8 2022. They also detained sand laden vehicles.
Mandakini Rout of Patalipanka village said, the locals decided to protest against illegal lifting of sand from the river bed and near pillars of the bridge after local authorities did not pay heed to their pleas. “The pillars of the bridge over the river will weaken if illegal sand lifting is not stopped,” she warned. Naliniprava Behera of Kodakana said the roads leading to the villages have been damaged due to movement of sand laden trucks & tractors. Unauthorised sand mining is a lucrative cottage industry for influential persons in the riverside villages, another villager said. Sand mining has led to deterioration of law & order situation in the villages as mafia often fight. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2022/dec/09/women-in-kendrapara-villages-take-up-fight-against-illegal-sand-mining-2526501.html (9 Dec 2022)
Villagers attempt to gherao DC against sand mining Palpable tension prevailed at the office of deputy collector in Gunupur of Reyagada district on Sep. 20 2022 as villagers attempted to gherao the collector in protest against sand mining. The people of Kuturu village under Gunupur Municipality have been opposing sand mining on river bed of Bansadhara that is flowing close by since long. They have been maintaining that due to the sand mining, the river is likely to change its course and devour their village.
On Sep 19 2022, when the lease holders went to Bansadhara with trucks and tractors to lift sand, the villagers opposed them and did not allow sand to be lifted. On being informed, the officials from the sub-division office went to the spot and pacified the villagers by advising them to take up the matter with district administration. The villagers in large number including women and old people went to put forth their issues during the hearing at pubic grievance cell of the district collector at deputy collector’s office in Gunupur. When district collector Swadha Dev Singh came, the villagers tried to present their problems. https://odishabytes.com/villagers-attempt-to-gherao-district-collector-against-sand-mining-in-odishas-rayagada/ (20 Sept. 2022)
Telangana Residents united to save Manair from illegal mining Save Manair, a people’s movement to save the river from illegal sand mining, is gaining momentum. It is headed by a retired librarian Ambati Karunakar Reddy. The movement, in which villagers and a few people’s representatives are members, is raising consciousness among the people in preventing the unconscionable loss to the river, as the sand smugglers’ operations continue unbridled. For the sand smugglers, the permission given for desilting check dams in 18 sand reaches has come in handy to excavate sand everywhere. The Manair Parirakshana Samithi, which is leading the movement, alleges that the govt was indirectly supporting the sand mafia. As part of their movement, pamphlets on the need for protection of the river, have been distributed to people in Madaka, Pothkapalli, Indurthi, Kanagarthi and Gumpula villages.
The activists are explaining to the villagers how the illegal activity would affect the groundwater table and irrigation in the villagers. “If sand mafia’s activities continue, agriculture will take a hit in the coming days,” says Ambati Karunakar Reddy. The sand smugglers were hiring villagers for smuggling the sand out, he points out. The Samiti is also planning to launch a ‘Sand Satyagraha’. The organisation wants farmers, environmentalists, and youth to remain united to fight against the sand mafia. He alleges that the Dist Sand Committee was cooperating with the sand mafia even though they are violating the rules. Mirjampeta MPTC Gudem Janardhan Reddy says: “It is time everyone lent their hands in protecting Manair River.” https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2022/jul/24/save-manair-residents-band-together-to-save-manair-river-fromillegal-sand-mining-2480079.html (24 July 2022)
Fishermen in Konaseema Protest On Boats Over Illegal Sand Mining in Godavari river. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvfvMMuIj0w (30 Sept. 2022)
Puducherry Activists urge L-G to look into illegal mining Illegal sand mining continues to thrive in the Then Penniyar River around Soriankuppam, Commandamedu, Aratchikuppam, Kuruvinatham in Bahour Taluk, with the govt taking no action to curb it, said activists. The mining had stopped for a few years after an NGT order banned it, the PWD set up a joint collaborative monitoring system, police and revenue officials were put in place, and designated check posts were set up to monitor the movement of illegally mined sand. However, after the former LG Kiran Bedi left the UT, the practice has been again raising its head, said V Chandrasekhar, president, Bangaaru Vaickal Neeraadhara Koottamaippu (a tank users association), on whose petition the NGT had passed the orders.
According to Chandrasekhar, the sand is now being transported through the Graveyard Road (Sudukadu Road) and Nagammal Koil, the exact locations where the NGT ordered to set up check posts. Both the check posts have long been closed and repeated requests to reinstate them have fallen on deaf ears. “Sand is now mined even in broad daylight, and transported in lorries. The officials are turning a blind eye to it, which raises a doubt that they are even a party to the ongoing sand-theft which is threatening the fragile river-sand-ecosystem,” he said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/aug/12/illegal-sand-mining-then-penniyar-river-activist-urges-puducherry-l-g-to-look-into-it-2486616.html (12 Aug. 2022)
Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh Tribals protesting for the last 15 days – The tribals of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh have been camping on the state border for the last 15 days to protest the construction of a bridge across the Indravati river. They claim it will lead to devastation of natural resources, local ecosystem and their religious places. The police department, on the other hand, labels the agitation as a ‘Maoist ploy’ to stop development. The agitators claim the bridge will only bring more benefits to the mining companies, at the cost of the local environment and hurt the tribal inhabitants.
Sources said the Maoists had abducted an engineer and his helper from the construction site of the bridge last year, and released them after there was an assurance that the work would be halted. The current indefinite protest kicked off on January 4 with around 2,000-3,000 tribals. It has continued with substantial number of tribals staging a dharna on the exposed bed of Indravati river, under the open sky, braving chilly weather. The river acts as the natural boundary between Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/toi-original/watch-why-thousands-of-tribals-of-maharashtra-and-chhattisgarh-protesting-for-the-last-15-days/videoshow/97080052.cms (18 Jan. 2023)
Goa Ugvem locals threaten to block NH 66 if illegal sand mining not stopped Uguem villagers threatened to block the National Highway 66 at Uguem if the government failed to stop the illegal sand extraction activity in the jurisdiction of Tamboxem-Mopa-Uguem Village Panchayat. On Monday (April 18), a delegation of farmers submitted a memorandum at Pernem Police Station demanding action against illegal sand mining activities in Uguem village. This is the second memorandum that the farmers have submitted within a week, wherein they have highlighted that even after giving live proof of sand extraction activities in Tiracol River, the police failed to act.
A villager Uday Mahale said, “Similar to last week, on Sunday (April 17) night again, we noticed 22 canoes carrying extracted sand. We immediately informed the Costal Police about it. Acting on the same, the Coastal Police rushed to the site. However, they came by road instead of coming by boat due to which they were unable to act or seized the canoes with sand.” “On April 19, court hearing is scheduled in this matter and based on the court order, further decision will be taken, which can even be blocking of National Highway 66 at Uguem, if the concerned authorities fail to stop the illegal activities,” Mahale said.
The locals also said that they are not against sand mining in Tiracol River but only pertaining to the river stretch right from Railway Bridge to Uguem. “We are not against sand mining but concerned about this particular stretch since due to continuous sand mining for the last 25 years, the Uguem villagers are getting affected badly as their agriculture land gets submerged in river water. While increase in depth of the river, it is posing danger to the railway bridge at Porascadem,” Narayan Mahale said. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/Ugvem-locals-threaten-to-block-NH-66-if-illegal-sand-mining-not-stopped/188939 (19 April 2022)
Illegal sand mining: Disaster in Goan rivers Rampant illegal sand mining is taking place in various parts of Goa along the river beds. This is an issue which is not just restricted to one part of go alone rampant violation of the High Court orders in keeping proper checks on the sand mining mafias, use of CCTV cameras to monitor it and the action the State should take in order to prevent rampant cutting of the riverbed in view of the environment disaster that is happening or some of the key issues that are affecting the State. Sujay Gupta in the weekly Herald TV debate Point-Counterpoint explores what is leading to the unabated illegal sand mining in Goa, how is it damaging the State’s environment and its long term implications on the fragile ecosystem. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Review/ILLEGAL-SAND-MINING-DISASTER-IN-GOAN-RIVERS/193397 (28 Aug. 2022)
Jammu & Kashmir Protest against stone mining in Doodh Ganga The residents of Sogam, Madbal & adjoining villagers in central Kashmir’s Chadoora in Budgam district held a protest against officials for facilitating environmental destruction by illegal stone mining in Doodh Ganga river.
The locals alleged that some officials of Irrigation & Flood Control, Geology and Mining and Revenue Depts were facilitating illegal mining by allowing illegal works which have no mention in the DPR. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/protest-against-stone-mining-in-doodh-ganga (17 Feb 2022)
J&K RTI Movement has demanded that detailed project reports (DPRs) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports of mining contracts given to excavate stones and boulders in Doodh Ganga and Shali Ganga in district Budgam be made public as the contractors were violating the norms given in DPR. Chairman RTI Movement while leading a protest demonstration at Madbal Sogam in Chadoora on Wednesday said that Doodg Ganga was under the verge of destruction as dozens of JCBs and earth movers were being sued to take out stones and boulders from Doodh Ganga. He said man-made sinkholes were created around the river bed at many places. https://kashmirobserver.net/2022/02/16/mining-in-doodh-ganga-shali-ganga-causing-disaster/ (16 Feb. 2022)
Uttarakhand Women protesting against stone crushers Despite repeated and grave threats by mining mafias, women in Kulsari village of Tharali tehsil, Chamoli have been protesting against setting up of stone crushers in their area. To stop setting up of stone crushers under any circumstances, they are guarding their land by lighting bonfires in the bitter cold. The area where stone crusher is being set up is a revenue area and is outside the jurisdiction of the police. The villagers allege that the dust flying from the stone crusher will destroy their fields & prove fatal for the small children & the elderly. Their children go to school from this area, who will continue to be victims of accidents by the dumpers carrying minerals. The villagers were agitating for the past seven months against the crusher but seeing administration apathy, the villagers have taken the matter to the court, where the hearing of the matter is going on. https://janjwar.com/national/uttarakhand/dehradun-news-henchmen-of-mining-mafia-are-threatening-women-with-sickle-in-hand-administration-is-promoting-confrontation-case-of-stone-crusher-is-pending-in-high-court-842538 (16 Nov. 2022)
Summary Riverine people have firmly stood against indiscriminate riverbed mining operations across India in 2022. The KGVES agitation against mining of sand bars at the mouth of Pamba river in Alappuzha district, Kerala is remarkable as it has completed 500 days. The mining is being pushed there in the name of flood mitigation work in Kuttanad by the govt agencies. However the local people feared it would lead to coastal erosion and impact fishing activities.
The traditional fishermen in Mangaluru, Karnataka criticized sand mining plans in coastal rivers Netravati, Gurpur, Phalguni and Kuloor which they find would destroy algae, shellfish, cowry, prawns & livelihood of dependent fishers. They rightly have questioned the authenticity of administrative survey conducted without including any fishermen in the panel.
Interestingly, bearing the brunt of unabated illegal sand mining in Swan river, the villagers and farmers have formed the Ilaqa Sangharsh Committee in Ropar, Punjab and have been actively monitoring and physically halting illegal sand mining activities.
The local people in Thural and Palampur in Kangara, Himachal Pradesh have been resisting against destructive riverbed mining activities in Neugal, Beas, Baner and other local rivers which has led to damages and continues to pose significant threats to irrigation and potable water supply structures including bridges.
A women group in Kendrapara dist, Odisha has come forward to check illegal sand mining in Mahanadi river after finding it damaging local roads and detrimental to a bridge. Similarly, Kuturu villagers in Reyagada dist have been opposing sand mining in Bansadhara river.
Another unique initiative has been taken by the villagers along Manair river in Peddapalli dist, Telangana where they have formed Manair Parirakshana Samithi to raise awareness among local people against the adverse impacts of riverbed mining to make it a people’s movement.
Finally, the activists in Puducherry; farmers in Urgam, Goa; women in Chamoli, Uttarkhand and local people in Budgam, Jammu & Kashmir have raised concerns and staged protest against ongoing and proposed mining in Then Penniyar, Trical, Pindar and Doodhganga rivers respectively.
Presently, most of the state governments in India have found technological measures such as drones, CCTVs, GPs tags, E-challan, Apps as new shield to avoid accountability when it comes to control and monitoring of illegal riverbed mining activities. Neither these measures have been applied in transparent and full-fledged manner in respective riverbed mining affected areas nor have they shown any promising results so far to achieve the objectives wherever implemented.
The fundamental and essential message from the above reports is inclusion of riverine communities and concerned citizens in monitoring and scrutinizing the mining plans and monitoring of illegalities and violations to improve the riverbed mining governance in India at a time when the threats and adverse impacts of destructive riverbed mining operations on rivers and dependent people’s lives, lands, livelihoods are omnipresent.
Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)