( A dumper driver being rescued from smashed cabin of a dumper after it rammed into a stationary sand loaded truck causing death of a mechanic in Varanasi in May 2022. Source: Amar Ujala)
The unsustainable and unlawful riverbed mining activities in India have not only been damaging the precious river eco-systems, livelihoods of riparian communities and crucial public infrastructures but also have been causing untimely, avoidable deaths of innocent people including common citizens, villagers, farmers, activists, reporters and government officials.
For the past five years, SANDRP has been trying to track the sand mining related deaths and violence in India. Like previous years, we have prepared a compilation of reports and a summary report on human death toll due to sand mining related violence and accidents during April 2022 and February 2023 in North Indian states and Union Territories including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi. We would publish similar reports for North East & East, West, South Zones and final summary report on the topic soon.
State wise summary Below we have given state wise summary of sand mining death & violence incidents in North India between April 2022 & February 2023.
On the basis of reports we could track, there have been death of at least 42 persons in Uttar Pradesh between April 2022 and February 2023 due to riverbed mining related incidents. Maximum deaths 33 have been caused by road accidents involving sand transporting vehicles followed by death of at least 4 children due to drowning in deep sand mine pits in this period.
UP has also seen death of 2 women during action against illegal sand miners including death of a woman by police bullets in Chandauli in May 2022 and death of a woman by mining officer vehicle in Sonbhadra in December 2022.
Of total road accident deaths, 14 have taken place in just three incidents, one at Kushinagar in June 2022 when a passenger bus rammed into stationary sand truck causing death of 4 persons and injuries to 25; second at Rae Bareli in July 2022 when a sand laden truck overturned on a car killing 5 member of a family and third at Etawah in October 2022 when a bus ran into sand loaded truck causing death of 5 passengers. Overall, 75 persons have suffered injuries in road accidents due to sand mining vehicles in the reporting period.
The over-speeding, wrongly parked and driven sand vehicles have become a big reason for untimely death of scores of people in UP. In the past 11 months several innocent people have been killed by sand laden dumpers and trucks which includes death of a pregnant woman in Agra in July 2022; death of a school student in Bareilly in September 2022 and death of a minor kid in Saharanpur, October 2022. Even a home guard has been crushed to death by a dumper involved in illegal sand mining in Ghagra river in Ambedkar Nagar in January 2023.
The accidents at mining sites have also led to death of 2 workers; one each in Banda in May 2022 and Mahoba in June 2022 while a dumper driver was killed in road accident in Auraiya in February 2023.
Of 4 drowning deaths 2 each have taken place; in Unnao in September 2022 and death of 2 sisters in Fatehpur in February 2023 due to deep sand mine pits in Ganga and Yamuna rivers bed. Apart from these, we could find 4 incidents of threats, attacks and injuries of government officials including forest, mining and police in UP in these 11 months. Also a sand mafia suffered bullet injury during an encounter in Agra in October 2022.
In Uttarakhand at least 6 people lost their lives in mining related incidents in the reporting period. The death toll includes death by drowning of two youths (one in Dhela river, Ramnagar in May 2022 and second in Tons river, Dehradun in Oct. 2022) in riverbed mining pits. A driver was killed in US Nagar in June 2022 due to collision between brick and minor minerals loaded vehicles while another driver was electrocuted during unloading of sand in Roorkee in November 2022.
There was death of woman in controversial raid incident between illegal miner and Moradabad police and brazen murder of a sand trader in Kashipur both in October 2022 reveal gradual rise in mining related murders and criminal activities particularly in tarai areas of US Nagar and Nainital districts.
There have been 3 incidents of violent attack on forest department and administration in these two districts in November-December 2022 and February 2023. Further, as per the July 2022 Hindi report the government officials in Kumaon region have faced 44 incidents of attacks by illegal miners in past 6 years. Apart from this, the illegal miners from Uttarakhand were involved in beating and abduction of Himachal Pradesh mining official in Poanta Sahib in May 2022. The attack on Bairagarh villagers, Pauri in June 2022 for objecting to mining during night hours shows how fearless the mineral mafias have become.
In the reporting period at least 5 people have lost their lives during transportation of minor minerals. We could find 4 incidents of mining mafia attacking on government, panchayat officials and an activist for opposing illegal riverbed mining activities.
The Ponta Sahib area of Sirmour district has seen two incidents of attacks on forest, police and mining department teams for initiating actions against illegal mining in Yamuna river in May 2022. The abduction of mining official on 11 May 2022 from Ponta Sahib by illegal miners is quite shocking and shows how unruly the illegal miners have become. Notably, the area bordering Uttarakhand has become notorious for illegal mining of riverbed minerals.
HP also saw violent attack on village panchayat members in Palampur for objecting to illegal mining in Neugal river in September 2022. In October 2022, the illegal miners also tried to mow down Suryabanshi Thakur who has been raising the issue of illegal mining in Beas river for the past 8 years.
Illegal mining of sand and stone is rampant across Haryana, so are the incidents of attacks on government officials and death of innocent people in sand mining pits. The most shocking violent incident in the state took place in July 2022 when Surendar Singh, Twadu DSP was crushed to death while stopping illegal stone miners in Nuh district. In another similar incident, the Manoj Kumar, DSP escaped lethal attack in Karnal in first week of February 2023 when illegal sand miners tried to run a dumper over him.
The mining department officials in Ambala have faced several attacks by sand mafia all through the year 2022. Similar incidents have also taken place in Mahendragarh in August 2022 and Palwal in October 2022. The illegal miners have also attacked farmers in Yamuna Nagar in November 2022. Apart from this, the deep pits created in Yamuna river by excessive mining have resulted in death of 6 people (2 in Yamuna Nagar in May 2022 and 4 in Sonipat in September 2022) of which 5 were young boys.
At least 5 people including 2 farmers have died in sand mining related incidents in Punjab in the reporting period. Both the farmers (first in Hoshiyarpur in March 2022 and then in Mohali in February 2023) were killed for opposing illegal sand mining activities. Apart from this 3 other farmers were attacked by illegal sand miners in Firozpur in September 2022. We could find one incident of attack on forest department team in Mohali in August 2022 in which an official was severely injured. Also 3 members of a family were killed in a fatal road accident involving sand, stone transporting truck in SBS Nagar in August 2022.
Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi
The Union Territory of J&K has witnessed death of 3 children in deep pits created by excessive mining in riverbeds in June and July 2022. In Delhi 2 friends killed, 3 severely injured when their car ran into stationary sand laden dumper in Swaroop Nagar in June 2022. We could not find riverbed mining related accidents reports from the UTs of Ladakh and Chandigarh.
Summary Table: Sand Mining Deaths & Violence in North India between April 2022 & February 2023
|States/ UTs||Drowning deaths in sand mine pits||Death in mine collapse accidents||Deaths in road accidents due to sand transporting vehicles||Deaths of citizens/ activists/ reporters in sand mining attacks||Deaths of govt officials in sand mafia attacks||Total death|
|Jammu & Kashmir||03||NA||NA||NA||NA||03|
At least 69 people have been killed in riverbed mining related violence and accidents in North India between April 2022 and February 2023. The state of Uttar Pradesh have seen maximum 42 human deaths due to sand mining related accidents in this period.
Maximum deaths 45 have taken place in road accidents involving sand transporting vehicles including dumpers, trucks and tractors. Of total road accidents death 33 have taken place in Uttar Pradesh.
After road accidents, drowning in deep sand mine pits have become a big reason of untimely death of innocent people as at least 15 persons mostly young teens and youths have lost their lives in deep sand mine pits in past 11 months. Of total drowning deaths, maximum 6 have occurred in Haryana in Yamuna river, 4 in Uttar Pradesh and 2 in Uttarakhand.
More than of half of the drowning deaths, 8 have happened in Yamuna river alone including 4 in Sonipat, 2 in Yamuna Nagar in Haryana and 2 in Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh in this period. In previous year, such incidents were not reported from J&K but the UT has witnessed death of three young children in just 2 months of June-July 2022.
Incidents related to opposition of illegal sand mining have resulted in death of 6 citizens in the region. While 2 farmers have been killed in Punjab by illegal miners, 3 women lost their lives during controversial actions by Uttar Pradesh police and mining department official.
There have been over a dozen incidents of threats and attacks on forest, mining and police teams in Uttar Pradesh (4), Himachal Pradesh (4) and Uttarakhand (3) by illegal miners.
The illegal miners have particularly become fearless in Haryana state where DSP, Nuh has been crushed to death in July 2022 for taking action against illegal stone mining and DSP, Karnal had narrow escape from being run over by sand mining dumper in February 2023. The government officials in Ambala, Palwal and Mahendragarh districts have also faced multiple attacks by illegal miners in past one year.
Similarly, the illegal miners have frequently attacked the government officials in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh and plain areas of Nainital and US Nagar districts in Uttarakhand.
Apart from these, the farmers in Punjab and Haryana, village representatives and an activist in Himachal and Uttarakhand have faced threats and injuries for objecting to illegal mining of riverbed minerals.
Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (email@example.com)
Note:- The figures presented here are indicative based on various media reports we have come across for the reporting period so far. There could be several more sand mining violence and death incidents going unreported, being reported as routine accidents without revealing critical information or have remained uncovered by us. Also there is hardly any follow ups on people critically injured in attacks by mafias and hit by sand trucks. The actual death toll and injuries by riverbed mining activities could be much higher than the numbers mentioned here.