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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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

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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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 11 Jan. 2021: Big question marks over viability of Ganga waterway

[Feature image: A cargo stuck in Ganga in Balia, image source Dainik Jagran, June 2018. https://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/ballia-stuck-cargo-ship-in-the-ganges-for-a-month-18139816.html]

This latest episode described below once again raises big question marks over the viability, feasibility and desirability of pushing Ganga as the National waterways. Its economic viability has been questioned many times earlier and this episode only reinforces it. The ecological viability is dependent on refusal to conduct any environmental impact assessment in any credible, transparent or participatory way, while the massive adverse impacts on the river, its biodiversity including the National Aquatic animal Dolphin as also on the livelihood of millions of fisher people and boats people are all known, but being ignored by the Ministry of Inland waterways headed by and pushed by Mr Nitin Gadkari rather blindly. The only way to resolve the issue is if there is an independent, informed assessment, which can happen only if the judiciary were to step in. Will they?

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 4 Jan 2021: Bangladesh declares Halda River as Fisheries Heritage

Bangladesh has declared the whole 81 km long Halda River, a tributary of Karnaphuli River in Chittagong in South East Bangladesh. The Halda river is also famous for breeding pure Indian carp. This is the only pure Indian carp breeding field of Bangladesh, perhaps in South Asia. This is a remarkable river conservation decision that has a lot of lessons for much bigger India where no river has been protected as fisheries heritage. This is great way to begin the first weekly DRP Bulletin of 2021 and we hope the Indian government, civil society and judiciary will take due note of this.

Controversy is never far away from any such river conservation efforts as is evident from the news about proposal for a Halda River based water supply project for industrial estate that has been opposed by the Fisheries ministry, water resources ministry, the River Conservation Commission, the Department of Environment and independent researchers.

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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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floodplains · Rivers

Please keep your tree Plantations away from River Floodplains

Guest Blog by: Manoj Misra

River Floodplains are not vacant wastelands awaiting tree plantations. They are extensions of a flowing river with key roles for keeping it healthy.

‘Afforestation’ has been cited as one of the key components of the ongoing Rs 20,000 Crores ‘Namami Gange’ program launched with much fanfare by the Modi government for the rejuvenation of river Ganga. Forestry interventions for Ganga rejuvenation are reportedly underway in accordance with a Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared by the Dehradun based Forest Research Institute (FRI)[i].

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