Field Observation Report, 20-21 April 2019 at Lakhwar Multipurpose Dam Project, Lohari and Vyasi Hydro Electric Project, Juddo. This author, also an applicant in NGT petition, visited the Lakhwar and Vyasi project area before the sub committee of MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley Projects visited the site on Apr 22, 2019.
The proposed site of Multipurpose Lakhwar dam project was seen affected with multiple landslides. One such fresh landslide was seen right at the site where the 204 meter high dam is supposed to be built. Locals revealed that many of the landslides in and around the location have become perennial.
Guest article by Kaushik Mukherjee and Sourav Prokritibadi
‘Kotto jongol chhnirbek! Sohoje ee jongol chnirte lairbek’ [‘How many trees are they going to cut down? These forests can never be destroyed so easily’]- comment by a tribal lady, Marang Buru hills, Ajodhya, Purulia.
The hilly area of Ayodhya is located within the dry deciduous forest belonging to a sub-region of the north-eastern part of Chhotonagpur plateau, included within a distinctive agro-ecological zone of West Bengal—the undulating red and laterite zone. Some of the prominent and well known hills of this area are Mathaburu, Gorgaburu, Pakhipahar, Ayodhya. The distinctive geological-hydrological backdrop and its characteristic floral and faunal diversity support a local human population—who, as official documents testify, are dependent on the forest for their life and livelihood. Moreover, the topography, forest wealth and wildlife attract tourists, wildlife researchers and naturalists in considerable numbers. Apart from being a popular tourist destination, Ayodhya hill range is significantly important for the entire Santhal population of all over India. The area is located precariously close to excavation sites that have yielded a rich outcrop of microliths—pushing the prehistory of Bengal back to 42,000 years BP[i] and promoting the area to the status of one of the most sensitive archaeological locales in West Bengal[ii]. Continue reading “DEVASTATING DEVELOPMENTS IN AYODHYA HILLS”
Bihar Unsustainable sand mining causing floods in West Champaran The sand mining in the rivers of West Champaran was causing unmitigated floods in the region, year after year but the govt failed to respond.
– West Champaran district also sees many floods in the non-monsoon months, many of which go unreported, and often, ignored by flood-relief schemes. The natural explanation for the flash floods is that the region is at the foothills and rivers from the hills of bordering Nepal flow through it. But the floods are not entirely a result of natural phenomena. Over the years, excessive sand mining in the river beds has led to ecological imbalances, making rivers and streams flood and even change their course, wreaking havoc in the villages along their banks.
Manipur DFO bans mining in Thoubal river Showing serious concerns to the degradation of the Thoubal River as well as its environment, a team of state police and Forest department officials led by District Forest Officer (DFO) RK Amarjit paid surprise visit at Moirang Purel and Itham area under Andro Assembly constituency where sand mining was underway at mass scale. During the inspection visit the govt official saw illegal excavation of soil from nearby hills of the area and dump it at Thoubal River for extraction of red sand.
As the mining of sand not only endangered the forest area of the surroundings but also degrades the condition of the Thoubal River, the DFO put immediate ban on the sand mining as well as excavation at hills of the surroundings. He also ordered ban on transportation of red sand in Thoubal and Kakching district. http://kanglaonline.com/2017/11/dfo-thoubal-swings-into-action-bans-sand-mining-at-thoubal-river/ (21 Nov. 2017)
According to data from the Ministry of Mines, Maharashtra state recorded 26,628 cases of illegal mining in 2017, the highest across the country. In 2018, data up to June showed 2,751 cases. Between 2013 and 2018, 2,228 people were booked for illegal mining, one court case was filed, and 163,366 vehicles were seized. The fines collected for illegal mining over 6 years was ₹ 365 Crores.
As per another report, Maharashtra has highest number of cases of non-compliance of sustainable sand mining management guidelines, 2016. According to data submitted in the Lok Sabha, the ministry received 7 major complaints regarding non-compliance in 2017, out of which 6 were from Maharashtra and one from Himachal Pradesh. The highest number of illegal mining instances have been recorded in the state as per data by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change. It recorded around 139,700 illegal mining cases between 2013 and 2017.
As this report narrates, a great volunteer effort is underway in Mumbai to clean up Mithi river. What they have achieved is just about 350 m of clean river, after labouring over weekends for several months. But this is such a daunting task to even venture to start. They have not only started, but made visible progress. Let us hope it will achieve all its objectives.
Brave Journalists exposes the Nexus supporting illegal sand mining in Tamil Nadu
Reporter honoured for exposing illegal mining On January 4, 2019, Sandhya Ravishankar was conferred Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for her reportage on illegal beach sand mining in Tamil Nadu. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/news18-editor-m-gunasekaran-becomes-1st-tamil-journalist-bag-ramnath-goenka-award-94522 (5 Jan. 2019)
Journalist stalked after reports on sand mafia Sandhya Ravishankar, Chennai-based journalist alleges multiple attempts to stalk and intimidate her in the recent past after she wrote a series of reports on the sand mafia. She is also fighting defamation cases. https://www.firstpost.com/india/chennai-based-journalist-sandhya-ravishankar-alleges-stalking-intimidation-after-reports-on-sand-mining-mafia-5295131.html (1 Oct. 2018)
Explosive reports on illegal beach sand mining in Tamil Nadu by Sandhya Ravi Shankar: Her report first person singular on Jan 31, 2017 provides blow by blow account of how the nexus involved in illegal sand mining was exposed. (https://thewire.in/culture/beach-sand-cartel, https://thewire.in/tag/beach-sand-mining)
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Apropos Sri Pravir Pandey (Vice Chairman, IWAI) article (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-won-t-choke-rivers/story-3CTflDhyTxijS5AAqlQeqO.html) in HT (The Hindustan Times) dated 24 Jan 2019 rejecting our serious reservations (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-will-destroy-india-s-rivers/story-8TDyHX1UuzQzKwWhHXQVPJ.html) expressed earlier (HT, 4 Jan 2019) on the claimed merits of the Inland Waterways Transportation (IWT) project. While welcoming IWAI’s presumed willingness to debate the matter, we reject Sri Pandey’s contentions in their entirety as having been made on rhetoric and ‘confidential’ assessments rather than on sound and convincing facts.
There are two key considerations which require attention before merit, if any, could be found in a potentially impactful project like the IWT. First are of course its financial viability and the second and much more critical are its environmental impacts.
Madhya Pradesh is one of the worse affected states as far as illegal sand mining is concerned. Over the years unsustainable sand mining has caused great damage to Narmada and its tributaries. The Ken, Betwa, Sindh, Chambal and Son rivers which join Yamuna and Ganga rivers has also been facing severe threats from ongoing illegal sand extraction.
Even in 2018, there was no significant improvement in this regard. There were attacks on govt officials and media persons for exposing illegal sand mining. The state govt failed to stop the illegal sand extraction.