Sand Mining

Sand & Stone Mining: 45 lives lost in fatal accidents in a week

 2021 has begun with 45 lives lost in 4 mining accidents in just a week. We highlight the tragic incidents here as they raise some critical questions about governance and to prevent the avoidable accidents from becoming a new normal. 

Karnataka, January 21, 2021

The latest accident occurred in Hunasodu village in Abbalagere taluk of Shivamogga district where a strong blast in a lorry carrying explosive gelatine sticks has killed six people. There is still no exact figure of death toll and cause of explosion is yet unknown. While various media reports have been mentioning death toll varying from 5 to 15, denying these figures[i] six bodies have been recovered so far. 

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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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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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Sand Mining

Durga Shakti Nagpal at India Rivers Week 2020: Civil society have important role to play in sand mining governance

Transcript of famous, courageous IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal’s address and Question Answer session at North Zone Dialogue on “IS SAND MINING KILLING OUR RIVERS” at India Rivers Week 2020 on Oct 31, 2020. It’s a must read for the amazing clarity and forthrightness that she spoke about her experience in taking on Sand Mining Mafia in her very first posting as IAS officer, as SDM Greater Noida in UP in 2013. She describes the dramatic circumstances under which her team was attacked in the middle of the night and how they survived what looked like a certain end of life episode. And she also talks about the biopic being made on her and who are likely heroines and whom she prefers!

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Dams · Sand Mining

Bihar Sand Mining 2020: Ruining rivers; aggravating floods

{Feature image: Up to 300 trucks a day take their fill of sand at a mine on the Sone River in Bihar state. India’s construction boom is stripping large volumes of sand, a vital ingredient in concrete, from its rivers. Environmentalists say the extraction is unsustainable, harming local hydrology and wildlife. Paul Salopek}

The 2018 review of sand mining[i] for Bihar highlighted how mismanagement by govt and then National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on sand mining in Ganga river, Son rivers particularly during monsoon months resulted in sand scarcity and soaring prices affected public and livelihoods of mining laborers.

The video report featuring local people revealed that illegal mining was causing floods in West Champaran by damaging embankments. Similarly, the report on Gaya mentioned sand mining among reasons behind increasing air pollution. The death of four kids by drowning into sand mine pits was shocking. This compilation presents the situation after 2018 so far.

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Dams · Yamuna River

Uttarakhand govt must remove illegal bridge on Yamuna to prevent flood disaster

Locals of Vikas Nagar tehsil in Dehradun have shared revealing and disturbing images and videos of riverbed mining activities done in Yamuna river over past couple of months. Though in wake of ongoing monsoon the mechanized extraction of riverbed minerals (RBMs) has seen a halt since July 01, 2020, the miners have left an illegally made makeshift bridge on Yamuna river. And that’s cause of worry for local people.

“Since May we have been requesting local administration not to allow deep, in-stream and mechanized mining in Yamuna river compromising rivers flow as it could change river course and create damages during floods. But all our pleas fell on deaf ears”, says a local villager on the condition of anonymity.

He further says that, a causeway bridge built across river in the last week of May 2020 to transport the minerals has been left unattended which could lead to a flood disaster if not safely removed immediately.

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Dams · Sand Mining

Telangana Riverbed Mining 2020: Tribals, Godavari robbed

In 2019 overview, we found at least three people had died in Telangana due to illegal sand mining related incidents amid growing number of cases of illicit excavation of riverbeds. The state govt was seen laying stress on technological solutions to curb illegal sand mining and even reportedly had taken significant steps towards manufacturing and use of M-sand as a viable alternative, while its viability and impacts on environment during production remain to be fully studied and understood.  https://sandrp.in/2019/02/26/sand-mining-2018-telangana-and-andhra-pradesh/ Here we track the key developments in the state since then.

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Dams · Sand Mining

Andhra Pradesh Riverbed Mining 2020: Quicksand of mismanagement

In 2019 overview, we saw the state of Andhra Pradesh experiencing all the key problems associated with sand mining; growing demand and prices, inadequate supply, illegal excavation affecting rivers and villagers and inactive govt bodies. Reports revealed Krishna and Vamasdhara rivers facing large scale mechanized mining while indiscriminate mining in Nagavali river affecting drinking water schemes in Regidi mandal. Srikakulam district and beaches particularly suffered.

There were reports showing political parties involved or facilitating illegal mining. Like other states, the Andhra govt was seen rallying on technological solutions to manage the mining. https://sandrp.in/2019/02/26/sand-mining-2018-telangana-and-andhra-pradesh/

The following overview since then show a whole range of developments. Unsustainable excavation of riverbed minerals & mismanagement show no end.

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Dams · Sand Mining

Tamil Nadu Sand Mining 2020: Persistent Court can’t shake indifferent govt

[Feature Image: Vital resource; Nearly 80% of the State’s output of river sand comes from quarries on the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers in Karur and Tiruchi districts. File photo Credit: M. Moorthy/The Hindu]

The 2019 overview for Tamil Nadu showed that the illegal sand mining incidents, protests, govt actions and court orders kept taking place concurrently. It revealed involvement of govt official in illegal sand extraction activities. In fact, sand mining was reportedly among reason leading to collapse of 185 year old regulator on Kollidam river. Also one officials and two citizens lost their lives in illegal mining related incidents.

Sandhya Ravi Shankar who revealed the gross violations of norms and irregularities in beach sand mining faced defamation cases, threats and stalking. Govt efforts to promote of M-sand & imported sand as alternative to river sand didn’t help.

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Dams · Sand Mining

Karnataka Sand Mining 2020: Active Collector, Destruction of fish sanctuary & calm collection

Feature image: Extraction of sand from the banks of the Tunga near Chibbalagudde in Tirthahalli taluk posing a threat to the fish sanctuary that hosts 27 species of fish. (The Hindu)

2019 Karnataka sand mining overview showed that the incidents of illegal sand mining were on the rise, state was reportedly consuming around 70 MT (Million Tons) sand annually while the govt was able to produce 30 MT. The govt was losing about Rs 200 crore to illegal sand mining, while about 29,000 cases of illegal stone quarrying and sand mining were detected in past 3 years. Towards the end of 2018, the govt was seen working on 4 separate mining policies for sand, granite, building material and stone crushers to stop the revenue losses.

There were discussions in govt circle promoting M-Sand and importing sand from Malaysia. M-Sand was being produced in 18 districts of state. However there was no clarity on its quality and usage. MSIL had imported 8000 T of sand and sold half of it. Despite facing sand dearth, the govt in Sept. 2018 decided to send imported sand to Kerala. About 0.15 MT Malaysian sand was stuck at two ports.

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