Sand mining, or to be more precise the sand mafia, has gradually become an issue of serious concern in our country. Sand mining in various parts of India is like an open secret, and the authorities have turned a blind eye towards this activity.
What is Sand Mining?
Sand mining is the extraction of sand from rivers, thereby leaving the rivers sand-less. It is a huge business in India with very low investment. Construction companies use the sand for their construction purposes without even thinking twice. The amount mined is so huge, that if not stopped, it will cause grave harm to our environment.
Image source: http://coastalcare.org
Today, development is happening everywhere, and construction is at the core of all development. This is when sand mining comes into play. Sand is mined on a grand level and without any licence. Two of the major issues pertaining to sand mining are the vital role of sand for construction purposes and the lack of replacement for sand. In India, Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Goa among other states are affected by sand mining.
Sand mining creates deep pits in rivers, thereby causing accidents. Sand holds back the water, but increased sand mining can increase the chances of flooding. Other hazards include erosion and sea/river bed degradation.
No Sand, only Silt and Clay
Sand miners take away the sand through porous scoopers and leave silt and clay in the rivers. The silt and clay make it difficult for people to step into rivers. When you put your feet in the clay, it becomes hard to retrieve. This leads to serious mishaps.
Mining Causes Harm to Wildlife
Erosion caused by sand mining harms marine life dependent on water and sand. For example, sea turtles depend on sand for their nesting purposes. It has also led to the extinction of many species of crocodiles. In short, an imbalance is created in the marine ecosystem.
Is there a Law?
Yes. According to the Mines and Minerals Act 1957, one must obtain a proper licence and pay a royalty on the amount of sand extracted. The punishment for illegal sand mining is imprisonment for about two years and a fine of up to Rs 25,000. However, this does not seem to be effective.