DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 30 Nov 2020: J&K SEAC denies EC to sand mining

In otherwise bleak governance of sand mining in India, J&K State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has denied environment clearance to sand mining projects on Jhelum river, since the proposals were not in conformity with the MoEF’s 2016 Sand Mining Management Guidelines, involved in-stream mining, did not have proper District Survey Reports, proper Sand Mining Plan or Replenishment studies. One hope this is emanating from genuine concern for proper governance and this needs to spread to more areas so that at least the guidelines get properly implemented.

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River Pollution · Urban Rivers

“River Rejuvenation” in Indore – Mendacity Displacing Common-sense

Guest Article by Rahul Banerjee

A laudatory article appeared a few months ago (April 2020) about how an IAS officer had cleaned up a 2 km stretch of the dirty Saraswati River (tributary of river Kahn or Khan) in Indore and it was brought to my notice recently[i]. The article claimed that this 2 km of stretch of River has been made “100% sewage free” “by treating inflow from 28 sewage lines through a fully functional Sewage Treatment Plant (STP)”.

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Expert Appraisal Committee · Ministry of Environment and Forests · River Valley Projects

The Real Worries about MoEF’s Expert Committee on River Valley Projects

Guest Article by RITWICK DUTTA

The Union environment ministry issued a new office memorandum on November 18, 2020, that mandates its expert appraisal committee (EAC) to meet “at least” twice every month to “cut down the time” for environmental clearances (ECs).

The EAC is an expert body of the ministry responsible to okay or reject proposed projects – by awarding or withholding ECs – under the environment impact assessment process. Though the EAC is an advisory body, the Union environment ministry in almost all instances goes by its recommendations, since it comprises experts.

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Rivers

India Rivers Week 2020: Key Highlights

Chaired by Justice (Retd) Madan Lokur of Supreme Court of India, the India Rivers Week (IRW) 2020[i] ended at a well attended National Dialogue on River Sand Mining, and giving away of Bhagirath Prayas Samman (BPS) and Anupam Mishra Memorial (AMM) Medal on Nov 28, 2020. This was culmination of the process that started with the North India River Sand Mining Dialogue on Oct 31, 2020[ii] and dialogues in South Zone[iii], West Zone[iv] and East Zone[v] in the following weeks. Several hundred people participated in the regional dialogues and the recordings continue to be watched by many more on Facebook live and youtube.

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Sand Mining

Note from a lawyer to citizens on illegal River Sand Mining

Guest Article by Parul Gupta

[This note has been prepared in the context of citizens in Pune city alerting the police about illegal sand mining in the middle of the night earlier this month, see lead story at: https://sandrp.in/2020/11/23/drp-nb-9-nov-2020-pune-citizens-expose-illegal-river-sand-mining-in-pune-city/. However, this provides useful guidance for all citizens across the country in similar situation, hence this is being shared for wider use.]

Illegal sand mining is an offence under the Indian Penal Code, Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act, 1957 and Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

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Rivers · Sand Mining

East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: How can we ensure implementation of court orders?

Higher Courts and NGT has been giving numerous orders and judgments, but the state is happily getting away with non implementation in most cases. How can we ensure that court orders get implemented? Why is the judiciary not concerned about non implementation of its orders? This was one of the central message of the East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue on Nov 21, 2020 (4-6.30 pm) as part of the India Rivers Week 2020[i] theme “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?” Additional Director R B Lal from Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in his presentation agreed that the sustainable sand mining guidelines have not been implemented. One would have liked to hear how we can achieve their implementation and that MoEF also values participation of people at the grass roots in sand mining governance. He did not mention the local people even once, while praising MoEF’s emphasis on technology in the sand mining guidelines.

The Dialogue was very ably moderated by Dr Malavika Chauhan of Tata Trusts and Dr Debashish Sen of People’s Science Institute (Dehra Dun). This was Fourth in a series of Zonal River Sand Mining dialogues being held after North Zone[ii], South Zone[iii] and West Zone[iv] Dialogues held earlier.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 23 Nov 2020: Pune Citizens Expose illegal River Sand Mining in Pune City

This is remarkable, first of its kind of development where the citizens of the city have come together to expose the illegal River sand mining in the Pune City in the middle of the night. They alerted the police, who did take action, caught one of the culprits along with Poclain machine. The rest of the machines, which too should have been guarded, were taken away by the miners after police left, it seems. Salutes to all the citizens involved including Vaishali Patkar and Pushkar Kulkarni and their supporting organisations including Jeevit Nadi, Aundh Vikas Mandal.

It is only when citizens come together in this way that there is any possibility of stopping the menace of illegal sand mining and other menace affecting our rivers. Kudos to the Pune Citizens to show the way for the rest of the country too and hope such collective efforts by the Pune citizens will continue to show the way forward for all concerned.

The prompt action by the Pune police also should be appreciated and one only hopes the police will investigate the case professionally and produce a strong legal case, apply all the relevant sections of IPC, Environment Protection Act and Mines and Minerals Development Act, all the government department will play their role and bring everyone guilty to book with exemplary punishment. Pune citizens will surely keep a watch on this.

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Sand Mining

193 dead in River Sand Mining incidents in India in 2019-20

The illegal, excessive sand mining activities have been impacting river ecosystem and riparian communities adversely. Scores of villagers, young kids, reporters, activists and government officials are being attacked and killed every year for objecting to or due to unlawful and unsustainable excavation of River sand. The brazen mining is also leading to fatal road accidents which is again resulting in grievous injuries or even deaths.

The situation has only deteriorated despite several protests by locals and numbers of court orders reprimanding the central and the state governments. Political parties, politicians are directly or indirectly linked to many of these activities. 

SANDRP in its 2018 overview, could compile 28 human fatalities due to illegal sand mining operations. However that was only based on the news reports that came to our notice, the actual death toll would be much higher. SANDRP this time has prepared a more detailed account of violent incidents that have taken place since January 2019 so far causing human death and injuries. The state and zone wise brief summary of these incidents is given here and a bit more detailed report is uploaded separately.

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Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk · Rivers · Sand Mining

WFD 2020: Impacts of River Sand Mining on Riverine Fisheries

World Fisheries Day 2020 is being celebrated, like every year, on Nov 21, 2020[i]. Though FAO celebrated it on Nov 20, 2020[ii]. From India, NPSSFW[iii] has called upon small scale fish workers to celebrate the World Fisheries Day 2020 with hope, determination and fervour. [Feature Photo above: Jal Satyagaraha by women in Banda (UP) against Sand Mining.]

SANDRP has been publishing articles during WFD in 2019[iv], Article about Mass fish deaths due to pollution, dry rivers in India[v], 2018[vi], 2017[vii] when Gujarat Fish workers dependent on Narmada River Demand cancellation of Bhadbhut Dam, rejuvenation of River, 2016 memory note on Ganga, Narora Barrage and Fish ladder[viii], 2015[ix] and 2013 note on community fish sanctuaries[x].

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Urban Water Bodies

CITIZEN’S AGENDA FOR BELLANDUR-VARTHUR CATCHMENT

Guest Blog by MS. NIRMALA GOWDA

Following the trail of Bellandur and Varthur lakes rejuvenation, we discovered the rejuvenation process of the infamous burning lake of Bengaluru to be ad-hoc , illogical and not supported by well documented data and scientific facts. We published a report, “Citizen’s Agenda for Bellandur/Varthur Catchment”, which is a critical review of the works done by the Karnataka state government based on its submissions to NGT and our own site investigations over a period of time. In-depth analysis revealed continued wanton neglect of responsibilities, eluding courts with inaccurate facts and escaping public scrutiny with non-transparent operations.   

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