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Why Is Illegal Sand Mining Harmful

Illegal Sand Mining In India
Sand mining is the extraction of sand through an open pit but sometimes mined from inland dunes from oceans ,riverbeds and beaches. It is defined under section 3(e) of mines and mineral development and regulation act,1957(mmdr act) .this law has been implemented by the government to prevent illegal mining. Sand is often used for manufacturing, for example construction purposes and as an abrasive . According to the geological survey of India (GSI), river bed mining causes a lot of alterations to the physical characteristics of both river and riverbed . These can give huge impact towards the ecosystem and effect the habitat of the plants, animals, riparian. In sand mining they extract minerals such as Rutile, illmenite and zircon which contains useful elements titanium and zirconium .In India estimated consumption of cement is about 324 million tons, and for each tonne of cement ,the building industry needs about 7-8 times more tons of sand and gravel .This problem is been a very serious issue in the case of river in the southern west coast of India, especially Kerala ,where rivers are small with limited bed resources .On an average ,about 8,000 loads of sand are being illegally mined from he major riverbed like Araniyar, Kosasthalaiyar and Palar, the Cauvery delta region and along the Thamirabarani river .Illegal sand mining is a perennial problem in India .The mine owners and hoarders try to dig out as much sand as possible ,through illegal means ,in the pre-monsoon months. There are no official figures for the amount of sand mined illegally. But in the year 205-2016,there was over 19,000 cases of illegal mining of minor minerals, which include sand, in the country, said Piyush Goyal, former minister of mines.

A per he union ministry of mines, and is he fourth most important minor mineral in terms of production after road metals, building stone and brick earth .Yet the government does not collect data on the volume of illegal mined sand. Then-regulated sand mining has resulted in the erosion of the river banks resulting in increased flooding and causing a severe threat to biodiversity. Environmentalists have raised public awareness of illegal sand mining in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh And Goa of India.

In a recent the cases of illegal sand mining has been increased and here might be a complete ban on river mining in near future ,in the last three years alone, seven to eight cases have been booked by various agencies on a average everyday. “The sand we are extracting from the riverside was formed millions of years ago. We are a a stage where river sand may no longer be available. we are already losing biodiversity. extraction of sand will further destroy it .In order to put an end to river and mining, the state government is likely to ban it in the next few years and encourage use of manufactured sand" as per the officials. In Tamil Nadu illegal sand mining may be a scam worth Rs1 lakh crore, likewise a whopping 98.87 lakh metric tonnes of minerals were illegally excavated in a period of five years in five Rajasthan districts. Rajasthan has rich reserve of cooper, lead, zinc, rock phosphate, sand which are found in the aravalli mountain range. Around 98.87 lakh metric tonnes of minerals were found to have been illegally excavated (2011-2012 to 2016-2017).

Impact On The Environment By Illegal And Mining

Sand is an important economic resource and also a source of silica for making sodium silicate, a chemical compound used for manufacture of both common and optical glasses. The economic aspect of sand are not confined to it value as raw material. Besides is economic importance, sand also constitutes an important biotic component in aquatic ecosystem like rivers. sand mining is an activity referring to the process of the actual removal of sand from the rivers, riverbeds and beaches. Depletion of sand in the streambed and along coastal areas causes the deepening of rivers and estuaries, and the enlargement of river mouths and coastal in let. Any volume of sand exported from the streambeds and coastal areas is a very big loss to the system . The sand mining effects the adjourning ground water system and the uses that local people make from the river. The main aspect is that i the destruction of aquatic and riparian habitat through large changes in the channel morphonology and it also includes bed degradation and bed coarsening. Further all species require specific habitat conditions to ensure long-term survival. Native species in streams are uniquely adapted to the habitat conditions that existed before humans began large-scale alterations. These have caused major habitat disruptions that favoured some species over others and caused overall declines in biological diversity and productivity. In most streams and rivers, habitat o quality is strongly linked to the stability of channel bed and banks. Unstable stream channels are inhospitable to most aquatic species.

Factors that increase or decrease sediment supplies often destabilize bed and banks and result in dramatic channel readjustments. For example, human activities that accelerate stream bank erosion, such as riparian forest clearing or in-stream mining, cause stream banks to become net sources of sediment that often have severe consequences for aquatic species. Anthropogenic activities that artificially lower stream bed elevation cause bed instabilities that result in a net release of sediment in the local vicinity. Unstable sediments simplify and, therefore, degrade stream habitats for many aquatic species. Few species benefit from these effects.

Apart from it, sand mining transforms the riverbeds in large and deep pits as a result the groundwater table drops leaving the drinking water wells on the embankments of these dry rivers. Environment impact assessment (EIA) is an activity designed to identify and predict the impact on the biological environment and on social environment. EIA has been established worldwide as an environmental management tool used by government agencies, companies and organization. In its sand mining related environmental problems in the rivers draining the vemband lake. Illegal sand mining in Rajasthan, 36 vehicle impounded and they have mined from banas river on February 24,2018 the supreme court has said sand mining ban has extended the sand mining till march 13,18 and issued notice to the state government.

Achankovil river is a main channel in the high land and its major environmental problems are bank failure incidences, uproot in of the, damages to engineering structure etc. The extent of degradation is low moderate only.

Pamba river is a main channel and tributaries in the highland, the environmental causes were damages to riparian vegetation, in stream biota etc and its extent of degradation is low when comparing to the other midland and lowland. Manimala river is also a main channel and tributaries and it high land ,the environmental issue here is river bank slumping, changes of channel morphmetry, etc and its extent of degradation is low to moderate only.

Meenachil river i a main channel and in highland the effects here are encroachments, river bank slumping, undermining. its level of extent of degradation is low to moderate.

There few more rivers which are also been affected by the sand mining namely, Muvattupuzha river, periyarriver, chalakudy river.

Steps Taken By Government Of India
Due to the sand mining there is more of effect on the ecosystem which will have a severe impact on plants, animals and rivers. In February 2012 ,the supreme court of India ruled that approval under the 2006 environment impact assessment (EIA) notification is needed for all the sand miners collection activity, even if the area being is less than 5 hectares. The main few features of illegal sand mining are, sand was being dredged illegally and operations were taking place during the monsoon mechanical dredgers and suction pumps which were deemed to be illegal were used .even mangrove forests had been destroyed due to illegal construction of storage docks, roads and other infrastructure to facilitate easy removal and transferring of sand from the river. this has made Mumbai and other regions very vulnerable for floods.

Some steps are taken in kerala government to control illegal sand mining, Tahsildars have been asked to conduct raids, bring notice to the collector and to seize the vehicles carrying sand.24*7 call complaints were added so that public can register complaint regarding illegal and mining in the district.

The madras high court has disposed of public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking a direction to the state government to ban sand quarrying in the state and to mandate use of M-sand (manufactured sand) as an alternative to river sand in mainly construction activities ,The first bench of acting chief justice huluvadi G. Ramesh and R. mahadevan directed the state government to take action on the representation made by te petitioner in accordance with law. The state government of Tamil Nadu issued a government order dated October 1,2003 making the existing license ineffective and restricted the licences. Inspite of the restrictions private contractors were exploiting the riverbed. the state shall initiate appropriate and immediate action against the persons involved in illegal mining, Transportation and storage in the state and proceed for the permanent confiscation of vehicle involved in the illegal activites and cancellation of the registration certificate of the vehicle, without any scope for the owner of the vehicle.

For illegal sand mining, one can complain to police station or can inform environment ministry. if one is found being involved in illegal sand mining he might face harsh punishment. Even the police now have powers to cache hold on illegal sand mining, they have the power to seize illegal sand mined or transported sand.

Recently seven booked for illegal
sand mining in frazilka and fezozepur district on march 12,2018 and they were arrested and the police seized the vehicle. Likewise In Punjab illegal sand mining was spotted in the banks of Sutlej in phillaur and rahon. the illegal and mining has become an issue in Punjab .Despite on the ban on using machines like proclaim, jcb yet they have used for extracting more sand ,thus the state of Punjab has to coordinate with the mining department and district administration to ensure a complete end to Illegal mining across the state.

So even after the government has implemented steps the illegal mining is still continued and They must amke it more effective so that they stop illegal sand mining in India and the government is taking a serious decisions.

Recent: Stop Sand Mining, Madras High Court Rules

The Madurai bench of madras high court on November 30,2017 passed an order directing the tamil nadu government to stop all sand quarrying and  mining activities within six month and not to open any sand quarries in the near future. Its advised that thee government will provide the requirements to the people in importing sand.

“the cort finds it appropriate to pass this order in large public interest to protect the environment ,river beds and river bodies for the long term,the judge also mentioned that he urged the state government to take decision to import river sand by the state owned corporation itself to mitigate the shor supply of sand within the state.

The madras high court Madurai bench reserved its order on plea seeking complete ban on sand quarry operations in cauvey and kollidam rivers in Tamil nadu.The court said its stay over sand quarry operations in trichy and karur district will continue till the disposal of the case.

The division bench of justices KK Sasidharan and GR Swaminathan heard a batch of pleas including one filed by president of Cauvery .neervala athara pathukappu sangam.

So after hearing the arguments from concerned sides, the court reserved its order.

Guidelines To Be Followed For Legal Sand Mining:
The prospecting mining operation should be under licence or lease- the lease conditions must be contrary to the rules after the end of lease period, there needs a renewal of lease for continuing mining. Exceeding the lease area, comes under illegal mining of this act. After a premature termination of lease, there is a need for seeking permission from State Government for the operative mechanism of section 4(A)(1) of MMDRA, 1957.

District level committee has powers to terminate the lease or cancel it, after consulting it with Central Government where it is expedient in the interest of regulation of mines and minerals development, preservation of natural environment, control of flood, prevention of pollution, or to avoid danger to public health or communications or to ensure safety of buildings, monuments or other structure or for such other purpose it may deem fit. But this rule is not exhaustive there are other authorities which might govern the rule like Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and National Green
Tribunal (NGT).

India’s Suffers To Stop Unauthorized Sand Mining:
India’s sand mining problem is so prevalent that it has developed into black market, that continues to exploit millions of tons of commodity annually, in the open loot of the riverbeds, canals and beaches sand is being drained by illegal means. According to Geological Survey of India, riverbeds mining cause several alterations to the physical characteristics of both the river and the riverbeds, which severely affect the ecological system of river plants and animals.

According to India’s construction industry Development council, this guides the government on construction policy, which says that the country consumes 500 million tons of the commodities annually and that’s only the legally recorded amount.

According to a report on ABC Foreign Correspondents, India’s sand business employs over 35 million people and is valued at well over $126 billion per annum. The supply problem could partially be attributed to the environmental limitations imposed to protect ecosystem or due to the existence of illegal means to create a supply chain.

India’s sand mining problem is so prevalent that it has developed into a black market that continues to exploit millions of tons of this commodity annually, in an open loot of the riverbeds, canals and beaches sand is being drained by illegal means.

The illegal sand trade has significant consequences; the housing is becoming unaffordable for the common man and the ecosystem is exploited for personal gains of the ‘sand mafia’.

According to a recent report on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent, India’s sand business employs over 35 million people and is valued at well over $126 billion per annum.

Rege’s research estimates that the sand mining black market could be generating revenue of approximately US$16 to 17 million a month.

In one of country’s biggest scams, politicians and their business allies stand hand in hand to exploit country’s booming construction industry

The supply problem could partially be attributed to the environmental limitations imposed to protect ecosystem or due to the existence of ‘illegal means’ to create a supply chain.

Although the Union Environment Ministry has taken some serious steps to curb the problem by drafting guidelines in September 2015 on how to crackdown on the illegal practices of sand mining but the problem remains far from being resolved.

In the northern state of Punjab, illegal mining has its own consequence.

The un-regulated sand mining has resulted in the erosion of the river banks resulting in increased flooding and causing a severe threat to biodiversity.

Additionally, the state is failing to generate substantial revenue that is spilling through illegal sand mining. Punjab’s current debt is about Rs. 1.12 lakh crore.

Punjab’s newly elected chief minister Captain AmarinderSingh once said that the sand mafia was robbing the state, by Rs 5 crore per day.

With names of top leaders of the previous SAD-BJP government linked with the “sand mafia”, the newly elected government is expected to set a probe committee to catch the people associated with its black marketing.

According to a NDTV report, four years ago, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate illegal mining in Punjab.

Last year, the court observed, "The officers of the state of Punjab are either complicit or in connivance with persons responsible for illegal mining."

Sand mining contributes to construction of buildings, infrastructure development, it helps in extracting minerals and provides both economic and social benefits. Even though-intensive sand mining with disregard to environmental protection erodes these gains and creates a series of environmental problems. The regulatory agenda prepared for sand mining is passive and these make enforcement difficult and complicated. Lack of clear guidelines for dealing with sand mining operations coupled with inability of the regulatory authorities’ results in unscrupulous sand mining activities and environmental degradation.

Even though the government ha implemented steps to stop illegal sand mining and produce an alternative by supplying manufacturing of sand ,yet there is still illegal and mining happening.

Even though there are no specific guidelines followed as if now, but it is suggested that local municipalities come up with bylaws to help preserve the ecological beauty of their areas. Environmental awareness training should be conducted for the communities in the vicinity of the extraction sites, there should be a clear check maintained on the bodies, so that there is fear of illegal sand mining. This will help in monitoring and enforcement of the bylaws made for the development of the society. Studies focusing on the impacts of sand mining on water quality, and the land affected by it, they should also monitor the damage caused due to sand mining to workforce.

This will help the people and the government authorities to know and understand the nature and severity of impacts of sand mining on water quality in areas. ,I would like conclude my article by saying Government should impose strict laws and they should stop illegal sand mining ,so that we can protect our ecosystem.

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