Sand Mining

Govts, Judiciary fail as Sand mining ravaging Chambal Sanctuary

(Feature image Mechanized and illegal mining in Chambal river, Morena. Image Source: MP Breaking News)

Large scale illegal sand mining activities are going on in National Chambal River Sanctuary area falling under Morena district of Madhya Pradesh and Dholpur district of Rajasthan despite a ban by Supreme Court, as highlighted by several reports in recent months.

The MP Breaking News report dated Dec. 31, 2021 details how illegal sand mining in Chambal river near Rajghat bridge in Morena side has been unabated contrasting government’s claims of strict actions against sand mafias in the state. Thousands of tractors and heavy machines like JCBs and hydras were involved in the act. It also reveals that the officials from district administration, forest and police departments were fully aware of the situation but did nothing to stop it.

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Sand Mining

India Sand Mining: Violence & Accidents Killed 418 People in 16 Months 

(Feature Image: SDRF personnel with dead body of a man who died after drowning in a deep pit created by illegal mining in Malan river, Kotdwar in July 2021. Image Source: ETV Bharat)

In addition to destruction of rivers eco-system and disruption of environmental services to riparian communities, the illegal and unsustainable sand mining practices in India have also been causing avoidable violence and accidents resulting in scores of human deaths and injuries on annual basis. However, there is no comprehensive picture emerging on this man made disaster. To fill the gap, SANDRP has been trying to compile available information on human toll from river bed mining activities across the country since last few years.

Tracking the issue, this year we have prepared detailed accounts along with summary reports in a zone wise manner for North, East, West and South zones covering sand mining violence and accidents from December 2020 to March 2022. On the basis of these zonal reports, this account sums up national level situation.

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Sand Mining

South Zone: 25 sand and stone mining workers died since Dec. 2020

(Feature Image:- The spot where gelatin sticks exploded in Feb. 2021 killing 6 people at a quarry site at Hirenagaveli village, Chikkaballapur district. Credit: DH Photo/Pushkar V)

Annually scores of Indian people have been meeting untimely deaths and suffering injuries due to violence and accidents associated with unregulated sand mining activities. We have compiled zone wise detailed reports on human toll of sand mining for the period between December 2020 and March 2022. The reports for North, East and North East and West zones have been published. This is fourth and last summary report of detailed file attached here on the issue for South zone covering Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala states. We did not come across any report on the subject from Union Territory of Puducherry for this period.

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Sand Mining

West Zone: In 16 months 17 children died in sand mine pits

(Feature image:- 19 year old mine helper died in sand mine pit in Sone river, Sidhi in March 2022. Image source: Vindhya News.)

One of the major impacts of riverbed mining in India is deaths and injuries due to accidents and violence. In 16 months since Dec 2020 (our previous report on this issue covered the period till Nov 2020) to March 2022, at least 17 children have died in sand mine pits in West India.  

This is West India summary report for this 16 month period on sand mining violence and accidents. The detailed file for West zone can be see here. The West Zone states included here are: Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. The summary reports along with detailed accounts for North, East and North East zones have already been published. The previous such report covering the issue from January 2019 to November 2020, can be seen here.

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Dams · Sand Mining

East India: 58 govt officials survived sand mafia attacks since Dec. 2020

(Feature image:- DC Srivastava, SDPO Banka district, Bihar injured in sand mafia attack in Oct. 2019 (Dainik Jagran). The same official has again faced lethal attack by sand mafia in Jan. 2022.)

In 16 months between Dec 2020 and March 2022, states in East India saw sand mafias attacking at least 58 government officials. In addition to this, at least 137 have died and 156 suffered injuries on account of riverbed mining and transportation activities during this period in this zone.

This report tracks human toll of excessive, unlawful riverbed mining excavation and transportation activities in East Indian States of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh during December 2020 and March 2022. It also documents some sand mining related fatalities in North East states of Assam and Manipur in this period.

This is a summary report of a more detailed file attached here. The first part covering the sand mining violence and accidents in North India during the same period can be seen here. The following parts would cover the West and South Zone.

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Sand Mining

North India: 136 people killed in sand mining violence & accidents in 16 months

(Feature Image: 1 killed, 17 injured after a sand truck toppled in mine pit in Kosi river, Ram Nagar. Source Amar Ujala, 30 Jan. 2021)

Among the many issues affecting Riverbed sand mining is the issue of violence of various types. Stories of such violence keeps coming up from all across the country all the time. However, there is no comprehensive picture emerging about this violence. SANDRP has been trying to compile available information about instances of various types of violence related to river bed mining since last few years.

Tracking the issue, this year we have prepared detailed accounts along with summary reports in a Zone wise format. This first part is a summary report of the detailed account on North Zone states including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh and covers sand mining violence and deaths that took place between December 2020 and March 2022, following after our earlier report that carried the figures for period upto Nov 2020. The successive parts will cover East & North East, West and South Zones. SANDRP’s previous report detailing nearly 193 human deaths between January 2019 and November 2020 on account of illegal sand mining activities can be seen here.

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Sand Mining

Riverbed Mining India 2021: 2 Bridges Collapsed, 23 Threatened

Riverbed mining activities in India has not only been affecting river ecology, geo-morphology in multiple adverse ways but also leading to collapse of crucial infrastructures along rivers. This includes dams, barrages, bridges, drinking water projects, embankments etc. In 2021, there have been several of such incidents particularly damaging or threatening the bridges across the country most of which we have tried to compile here.

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Sand Mining

Riverbed Mining India 2021 Overview: Judiciary unable to fix Governance  

Feature Image:- Trucks seeking to transport sand stuck in Krishna river after flash floods, 300 people rescued (Image source: TNIE)

Rivers and riverine communities in India have been facing significant threats from large scale unsustainable sand mining operations. As part of our annual overview, SANDRP has compiled the prevailing scenario in the country over the year 2021 in first part. The second part has focused on some important policy and governance steps taken by various state governments. This third part tracks top ten judicial decisions and interventions in 2021 by various High Courts, National Green Tribunals (NGT) and Supreme Court.  

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Sand Mining

Riverbed Mining India 2021 Overview: Govts’ Changing Policies to Mine Revenues

(Feature image showing brazen rule violations in legally approved sand (morang) mining site along river Ken at Kanwara, Banda. Source: Ashish Sagar Dixit.)

This second part of riverbed sand mining overview 2021 by SANDRP highlights relevant reports from ten different states where governments have taken new policy, administrative decisions. The first part presenting prevailing riverbed mining scenario over past one year can be seen here. The third and final part of this series would cover the key judicial interventions.    

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Sand Mining

Riverbed Mining India 2021 Overview: Destruction of Rivers, Infrastructures, Governance

(Feature image:- Rampant sand mining damaging Yamuna’s ecology. Hridesh Joshi/Mongabay India)

The rivers and riverine communities have been going through whole range of adverse impacts on account of large scale riverbed mining operations. The illegal riverbed mining has become a pan India menace and there is hardly a river left, not being mined in the most unscientific manner.

The year 2021, despite being a pandemic year – when developmental activities and economy have faced slow down – has only seen escalation in mining related destruction. Be it threatened aquatic eco-system, precious surface and groundwater resources, costly public infrastructures or land and lives of villagers, farmers and manual miners; all have been paying a heavy price of relentless mining.

This first part of SANDRP’s Year End Overview of sand and riverbed mining sector puts together the top 10 stories from across the country showing how the mindless extraction of minor minerals has been causing major destruction to rivers and people. The following parts of the annual review would focus on state governments’ actions and judicial interventions regarding riverbed mining in 2021.

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