In SANDRP’s weekly News Bulletins, we select lead story each week. Here we try to look back and take stock of major happenings of 2020 through a compilation of DRP lead stories to recapitulate major happenings related Dams, Rivers, Water and Environment. While doing this we are aware that this may not completely capture all the key happenings in this sector, since not all the major developments are captured by the media and their headlines. However, it does provide some idea about what were the major developments in this sector in the just outgoing year 2020. We have divided the lead stories under several key classifications like River Management, Environment Governance, Dams, Hydropower projects, Flood management, groundwater management etc.Continue reading “Dams, Rivers & People 2020 through the DRP LEAD STORIES”
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.Continue reading “Public Trust Doctrine must in sand mining governance: Jus. Madan Lokur at IRW 2020”
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.Continue reading “IRW 2020 National Dialogue on River Sand Mining: It is possible to satisfy sand demand through legal mining, but will it be allowed?”
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.Continue reading “East Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: How can we ensure implementation of court orders?”
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.”Continue reading “West Zone River Sand Mining Dialogue: Mining Riparian Health”
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.Continue reading “South Zone Sand Mining Dialogue: The grain of sand is habitat for many lives”
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.Continue reading “North India Sand Mining Dialogue under IRW 2020: Local communities need to have key role in governance”
In the first part we see, how under business as usual scenario, incidences of illegal riverbed mining going on unabated across the country. Reports suggest that Uttar Pardesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Goa have emerged leading states affected by illegal sand mining.
In 2017, countless reports have exposed politicians-officials-mafia nexus responsible behind mindless plundering of scarce natural resource in open violations of norms. Similarly, throughout the year, there have been several violent attacks on villagers, activists, government officials by sand mafia. In a whole more than 26 people are killed in incidences involving illegal extraction of sand.
In this detailed second part, SANDRP presents account of various measures taken by different State Governments and Central Government to check the unsustainable riverbed mining practices. The third and concluding part would cover legal interventions initiated by respective Judicial bodies to reign in the unsustainable, unlawful sand mining activities across India.
Undoubtedly sand is essential part of river ecosystem. Like flow and fish it helps rivers stay healthy. It’s critical for ground water recharge, replenishes the nutrients in moving water, supplies lean season flow to rivers and provides habitat to numerous forms of aquatic and riparian fauna.
Despite all this, illegal and unsustainable mining of sand and boulders is widespread across the country taking heavy toll on the lifelines of modern civilization. Continuing our effort to assess the scale of threat and level of devastation illegal sand mining is posing to our rivers, SANDRP presents State wise 2017 year end review on the issue. This is third straight year that we are doing this after 2015 and 2016. The subsequent reports would cover Governments’ role and Judicial interventions to reign in the unsustainable, unlawful sand mining activities across India.
Ever since its land mark judgment on February 27, 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) of India is not hearing any particular case pertaining to River sand mining regulation. In 2012 judgment SC had directed all Union Territories and State Governments to seek Environmental Clearances (EC) from Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) for mining minor minerals even in less than 5 ha or renew the same after prior approval from the MoEF&CC. Before this order, mining areas of less than 5 ha were exempted from EC enacted under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)-2006.
On Aug 5, 2013, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has passed an important decision ordering a ban on sand excavation across the country without permission from State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and MoEF&CC. Further in November 2013, interpreting environment as Central Government subject and directing MoEF&CC to frame uniform sand extraction rules, the NGT prohibited State Governments to form mining rules separately.
Since then, in pursuit of compliance to aforesaid orders, NGT and the High Court (HC) in several States have been frequently directing respective Government agencies to facilitate sustainable River sand removal. In this context, these courts have issued a number of orders and decisions all through 2016.