Sand Mining

2022 Riverbed Mining: 5 Bridges Collapsed, 22 Threatened

The indiscriminate, mechanized riverbed mining activities are not only impacting the river eco-systems and dependent communities in multiple adverse ways, but are also damaging the river based infrastructures including road bridges, railway bridges, embankments, irrigation channels and potable water supply schemes for past many years. We have put together reports on infrastructural damages and threats due to excessive riverbed mining in India in 2022. Our 2021, 2018 reports on this topic can be seen by clicking the links.   

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Sand Mining

2022: Riverine People’s Protest against Destructive Sand Mining Activities

The rampant riverbed mining in India have reached the alarming stage where the adverse impacts on river’s eco-system, river based environmental services including fishing, groundwater recharge, potable and irrigational water supply schemes have started affecting the riverine communities in multiple ways. Given the poor track records of responsible agencies in addressing their plight, the dependent, affected and concerned people have been left with no option but to resist. Like in past years, there have been several incidents of riverine people strongly opposing the destructive mining practices in many states in 2022. This overview compiles some such incidents which we could track. The first part of the overview highlighting the adverse impacts of riverbed mining on river eco-system and freshwater species can be seen here.      

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Sand Mining

2022: Riverbed Mining Destroying Indian River Eco-system & Freshwater Species

(Feature image sources: Clock wise (1) Mahseer fish/ Mongabay India, April 2022. (2) Gharials in Chambal/India Today, July 2022. (3) Gangetic dolphin/ECO NE. (4) Smooth-coated Otters in Cauvery/Round Glass, Jan. 2023.)

Indiscriminate mining of riverbeds for sand, gravel, pebbles have been rampant across the country increasingly damaging India’s rivers. The incidents of illegal sand mining, mafias, administrative actions & inactions, govt policies and court cases are routinely covered by the media. However the irreversible impacts of destructive riverbed mining operations on fresh water species and river eco-system are little understood, least explored, rarely covered by media and fails to attract the required attention from govts, judiciary and public at large. 

To some extent, we have been monitoring and highlighting the loop holes in sand mining governance. As part of our annual overview, in 2022 we have complied this separate report underlining the adverse impacts of riverbed mining on rivers and on aquatic life, fresh water species including endangered gharials, dolphins, turtles, fish etc.

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Sand Mining

India Sand Mining Dec 2020 to March 2022: 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

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

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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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 19 Oct 2020: India Rivers Week 2020: IS SAND MINING KILLING OUR RIVERS?

India Rivers Week (IRW) Organising Committee is excited to announce that the theme of the forthcoming annual event IRW 2020 will be: “Is Sand Mining Killing our Rivers?”. As part of IRW-2020, India Rivers Forum is organizing a series of Dialogues (digitally). This includes four regional dialogues focusing on North (Oct 31), South (Nov 7), West (Nov 12) and East (including North East: Nov 21)) India, and the final one (Nov 28) focusing on Sand Mining as a National issue.

Sand mining or mining of River Bed Material (RBM, including sand, gravel, boulders) has a huge impact on Rivers, in multiple ways: physical, ecological, livelihood impacts among others. While sand is also sourced from sources other than rivers, IRW 2020 will focus on sand sourced directly or indirectly from rivers. Sand is by definition, a key ingredient of the rivers. It provides habitat for multiple species of the biodiversity in the river. It provides both sub surface storage space and a mechanism to recharge the groundwater. The sand, along with silt, clay, pebbles and boulders are part of the river and are supposed to reach the deltas and provide a key existential medium in floodplain and deltas. To achieve that, sustaining river connectivities is very important.

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Sand Mining

Maharashtra Riverbed Mining Overview 2019: Mining Posing Bigger Threats As Government Fails To Act

(Feature Image:In Sindhudurg, the pollution is already shrinking mangrove cover, taking away a source of shelter and food, shrinking hunting grounds and forcing marine species further outside their territories in search of fish, Sindhudurg coastline had the potential to become an International tourism destination. Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)

The beaches, creeks, rivers, mangroves in the state of Maharashtra all are bearing the brunt of unsustainable mining, amid several attempts by government, judiciary and civil societies to keep a tab on illegal sand mining activities. As the detailed compilation by SANDRP highlights that mining menace warrants immediate actions from government before the threats turns into a disaster.  

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Sand Mining

Gujarat Riverbed Mining Overview 2019: Six People Died Due To Illegal Sand Mining   

Most of the Indian states have been facing multiple environmental issues on account of unsustainable riverbed mining activities. Mechanized excavation, nexus between politicians-administration-mafia, violent attacks on people have become common features of the illegal sand trade across the country. The rampant mining of natural resource is also severely impacting rivers, wildlife and groundwater table. And the state of Gujarat is no exception to all this as shows the year end overview.

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