Rivers · Sand Mining · South Asia

Blood on Sand: River Sand Mining in South Asia

The insightful River sand mining focused South Asia meeting titled “Blood on the sand: dangers of riverbed mining in South Asia” was held on Dec 11, 2020. It was one of the off shoots of the IRW 2020 held dialogues on River Sand mining in India. One of the underlining theme that reverberated through the presentations was again that people on ground must have a role in governance of sand mining, considering the failure of governance of river sand mining by all concerned departments and governments. While the discussions brought out a number of scientific insights, the role of scientific studies and assessment was another key point emphasised by all.

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Rivers · Sand Mining

Public Trust Doctrine must in sand mining governance: Jus. Madan Lokur at IRW 2020

Justice (Retd) Madan Lokur of the Supreme Court of India graced the Annual function of India Rivers Week 2020[i] on Nov 28, 2020, and gave his key note address on the theme of IRW 2020: “Is River Sand Mining Killing Our Rivers?” The annual function also included announcements of Bhagirath Prayas Samman and Anupam Misra Memorial Medal[ii] as also a panel discussion[iii]. We are happy to publish here what he spoke at the meeting as we feel it will benefit many more people.

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Rivers · Sand Mining

IRW 2020 National Dialogue on River Sand Mining: It is possible to satisfy sand demand through legal mining, but will it be allowed?

The political economy of sand mining, with funds of major political parties coming from illegal sand mining was one of the focal points of the National Sand Mining Dialogue held on Nov 28, 2020 under India Rivers Week 2020[i]. It is this reality that may not allow the demand of sand to be satisfied through legal mining, even if it were possible. The other highlight of the Dialogue was the key note address given by Justice (Retd) Madan Lokur of Supreme Court of India. Well known environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta agreed that many of the orders of the higher courts and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) are not being implemented and revealed that unfortunately most of the judges do not want to entertain petitions that their orders are not getting implemented.

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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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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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Rivers · Sand Mining

West Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: Mining Riparian Health

River Sand Mining is equivalent to mining not only riparian health, but also destroying massive water storage and recharge capacity. This was one of the central message of the West Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue on Nov 12, 2020 (4-6.30 pm) as part of the India Rivers Week 2020[i] theme “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?” The other central message of the West Zone Dialogue was well encapsulated by this quote from Yamuna Sunny, one of the panelists at the Dialogue: “The intricate relationships between the fishers, the small scale sand miners, the sand farmers, the birds and the trees, pertains not only to possibilities of developing sustainable ways of human life in an economic sense, but also the sustaining of all life forms and their relationships in nature.”

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India Rivers Week · Rivers · Sand Mining

South Zone Sand Mining Dialogue: The grain of sand is habitat for many lives

One of the central themes of the lively presentations and discussion at the South India Sand Mining Dialogue was that the grain of sand is a habitat for so many lives, as so brilliantly put forward by Munmun Dhalaria, one of the panelists. Another key highlight was that Yogeshwaran, the lawyer painfully noted that sand mining laws are neither environment friendly nor people friendly and can be environment friendly only if they are people friendly.

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Rivers · Sand Mining

North India Sand Mining Dialogue under IRW 2020: Local communities need to have key role in governance

The Key message that came through from all the panelists and North India Sand mining presentation was that if we are to see any improvement in the murky state of sand mining that is a threat to everyone today, then we urgently need key role for the local communities and civil society in sand mining governance. The second loud & clear message was that the Supreme Order of 2012 on the need for environmental appraisal and clearance of sand mining leases stands violated in letter and spirit by the Union Government. These messages also provide us the way forward.

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