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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Sand Mining

Haryana Riverbed Mining 2019: Yamuna Robbed of Minerals, Flows

For past two years, large scale mechanized and illegal mining is happening in Yamuna River in Haryana state. The miners have created deep pits across the riverbed in Yamuna Nagar, Karnal, Panipat and Sonipat districts. Year 2019 has been a deficit monsoon year in Yamuna basin and the river had started shrinking unusually during October month. The rampant riverbed excavation has further robbed it of lean season flows. This detailed overview of river sand mining in Haryana in 2019 shows the severe impact of unsustainable and illegal mining practices on the river and villagers due to insensitive government and inefficient administration.

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Sand Mining

Rajasthan River Sand Mining Overview 2019: SC Ban Remains, Police-Mafia Gang Rules

Seeing large scale impacts of unsustainable riverbed sand mining, the Supreme Court (SC) of India had banned sand mining activities in the state on Nov. 16, 2017. The apex court had also asked the 82 lease holders to get fresh permission of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) after submission of replenishment study.

Following this, the state government had formed a committee to look into the issue. All through 2018 the ban remained[I]. The status has not changed even as the year 2019 is ending. Meanwhile cases of illegal sand mining are continuously taking place in across the state. So are the police actions as routine process, some political statements, and few court orders. Like last year, this annual round up by SANDRP compiles, all these and other relevant developments on the issue from the state of Rajasthan.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 9 Sept 2019: Sand Mining issues proliferate even in monsoon

One expects that River sand mining issues will be minimal in monsoon, with riverbeds flooded, but that is far from the case, as we can see from this week’s bulletin. Recent news include the positive story of Dakshin Kannada deputy commissioner being remembered for curbing illegal sand mining; Institute of Engineers demanding curb in sand mining around the 90 year old Krishna Raj Sagar dam on Cauvery considering its safety; in Tamil Nadu, the most dangerous place in the context of sand mining, there is the news of police forcing activists to apologise; While the TN minister is in denial mode about illegal sand mining round Chennai; firing between sand mafia and police in Rajasthan leading to two deaths and several injuries; in MP, a video is in circulation showing police negotiation with sand mafia; new sand mining policies in several states including Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar and in Delhi the DJB has written to NGT to take steps to curb illegal sand mining downstream of Hathnikund barrage. And there is more.

That’s a lot of news during monsoon on River Sand mining. Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of the sandy tunnel. There is no effective policy or action on the horizon either from the states, centre or judiciary. It seems a lot more focused work is required on this issue.

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Dams · Sand Mining

Maharashtra Sand Mining 2018: Panegaon shows Way To stop Illegal Sand Mining

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.

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Sand Mining

Karnataka Sand Mining 2018: Hopeless, But Action Packed!

Karnataka is one of the leading states to witness the devastating effects of rampant sand mining. Between 2015 and 2018, the state has officially registered 20,779 cases of illegal sand mining, and 9,599 FIRs.

The state govt is receiving approximately Rs 150 crore per year as royalty from legitimate sand mining. As per estimates, the state govt is losing around Rs 200 crore per year due to illegal sand mining.

According to cement manufacturing companies’ data, around 18 million tonnes (MT)  of cement is sold in the state every year. The cement-sand mix ratio is either 1:4 or 1:6 (four or six bags of sand per cement bag). Even if 1:4 ratio is taken, 72 MT of sand is approximately used in the state every year.

The official data from the Department of Mines and Geology shows that from the blocks permitted by it, a total quantity of 30 MT of sand (from all types of blocks – river sand, patta land, blocks allocated to govt departments, and manufactured sand) is produced in the state. Thus, there is a difference of at least 42 MT sand compared to the cement sold in the state.

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Sand Mining

Madhya Pradesh Sand Mining 2018: Unprecedented Violence by Sand Mafia

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. 

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Sand Mining

Rajasthan: SC Banned Riverbed Mining through 2018: Centre & State Show No Concern

On November 16, 2017, the Supreme Court (SC) of India, prohibited 82 large lease holders from mining sand and stone activities in absence of scientific replenishment study. The ban continued all through the year of 2018 and so were the incidents of illegal sand mining and violent attacks on police officials.

The ban has reportedly hampered some development projects. The prices of sand has increased. Meanwhile the mining department is seen making efforts in exploring Manufactured Sand (M-Sand) as an alternative though it seems there is not much success as yet.

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