Driven by greed, audacious sand mafia kills with impunity

The surprising homicide of a Haryana DSP crimson flags the audacity of the sand mafia. Can this unlawful sand mining be stopped? Is sufficient being completed by legislation enforcement?

My adrenaline’s pumpin’

I received my stereo bumpin’

I’m ’bout to kill me somethin’

A police stopped me for nuthin’!

—From the music “Cop Killer” by Body Count)

Did a Haryana DSP die in useless?

Taoru DSP Surendra Singh was killed by a mining mafia close to Nuh’s Pachgaon on 19 July. He was probing illicit mining. He was run over by a truck. His physique was present in an open dumpster.

While he was only a few months away from retirement, his household grieves over their horrible loss.

The incident happened when Surendra Singh had gone to conduct a raid at Taoru Hill after receiving a tip-off about alleged illicit mining. An eyewitness mentioned the DSP was standing close to his official automobile when he signalled the dumper driver, allegedly carrying illicit quarrying gear, to cease. The driver mowed down the DSP.

The chilly truth is what number of actually care in regards to the enterprise of unlawful sand mining. It is pushed by “sand greed.”

The surprising homicide crimson flags the audacity of the mafia.

Can this unlawful sand mining be stopped? Is sufficient being completed by legislation enforcement? Is there alleged complicity at sure ranges which makes the sand mafia much more highly effective?

Sand mining in India has obliterated many lives. Activists, police officers and journalists who’ve probed native unlawful sand mining points have been killed.

Looking on the physique rely, between January 2019 and November 2020, not less than 193 folks have been killed in reference to unlawful sand-mining, the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People estimated in a 2021 report. And because it occurs in such experiences, these are mere indicative numbers.

At least 95 have been drowned within the giant pits that sand mining leaves behind on river beds. Workers have additionally perished within the technique of mining. Children, enjoying by the riverside, have died in droves whereas getting sucked into treacherous sand pits.

Another cause for such deaths is described as rash driving by vehicles transporting the mined sand. Make no mistake the folks behind the wheels would unhesitatingly run over a life if anybody dared to impede.

And the extent of punishment meted out to these accountable is minuscule. It is a tragic saga with no hope in sight.

Cold statistics buttress the issue. But the answer nonetheless stays elusive as a ghost.

Constable Sonu Kumar Chaudhary in Agra was allegedly run over and killed by a tractor-trolley engaged by an area mining mafia for transporting illegally-mined riverbed sand. This occurred on 8 November 2020.

The exact same day, 26-year-old G Moses, a tv journalist in Tamil Nadu, probing unlawful sand mining, was hacked to loss of life.

These names are a small a part of the large collateral injury being attributable to an alleged heinous nexus of contractors, politicians, commerce union leaders, panchayat (native officers) and income officers, and even cops.

Sand mining has India in its clutches; it isn’t a localised downside anymore.

It is prevalent within the Garo Hills in Meghalaya, the Sutlej in Punjab, Yamuna in Delhi, the Ganga in Haridwar, Urmil and Betwa in Bundelkhand, Kosi in Bihar, the Chambal and Narmada in Madhya Pradesh, Ojat in Gujarat, the Subarnarekha in Odisha, Musi in Telangana, Netravati and Phalguni rivers in Karnataka, Godavari and Krishna in Andhra Pradesh, and Cauvery in Tamil Nadu.

The Union atmosphere ministry submitted a report earlier than the Rajya Sabha saying there have been 4.16 lakh instances of unlawful mining recorded between 2013 and 2017. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka accounted for essentially the most variety of instances.

Why is sand so valuable?

As per publicly accessible info, the world makes use of 50 billion tonnes of sand and gravel yearly, making it the planet’s second most-used useful resource after water.


The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) printed a report giving 10 particular suggestions, together with classifying sand as a ‘strategic resource’, mapping and monitoring sand assets and adopting legal guidelines and insurance policies to counter sand greed.

Plenty of this is applicable to India, the place sand extraction is a serious environmental downside. Sand mining, each authorized and unlawful, has destabilised river banks and rendered them extra liable to floods. The demand for sand is pushed by a development growth.


Also Read

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UP’s Kabrai battles year-long dry interval as a consequence of unlawful sand mining; parched residents activate one another for water

Illegal sand mining Part 4: Karnataka continues to bear brunt of resurgent mafia, ever-changing guidelines

Illegal sand mining Part 3: Bihar govt’s tried crackdown sends costs hovering; officers face axe as rivers in damage

Illegal sand mining Part 2: Gujarat authorities’s claims of drone surveillance deterring mafia fall flat

Illegal sand mining: Congress govt in Madhya Pradesh fails to deal with menace regardless of tall pre-poll guarantees; state rivers endure


Miners, comprising native goons or highly effective mafias, run the enterprise to regulate sand extraction from rivers and coasts.

According to 1 estimate, the annual demand for sand in city India alone was 60 million metric tonnes in 2019.

India is extracting sand sooner than it may be replenished naturally.

According to a UNEP report printed in 2018, India and China had essentially the most “critical hotspots” the place sand extraction was affecting rivers, lakes and coastlines to feed the ravenous development growth.

Sand mining impacts the pure atmosphere in some ways. A 2010 examine discovered that sand mining in three main rivers in central Kerala had induced the riverbanks to grow to be unstable, rising the flood frequency and depth.

Removing sand also can decrease water aquifers, erode seashores and destroy animal habitats.

So, what are the options?

According to the 2018 UNEP report, sand is used as an combination for highway bases and cement-based development. This sand will be changed by aggregating the derivatives of the incineration of stable municipal waste.

Interestingly, the 2022 UNEP report additionally suggests changing crop residue into constructing materials — which may additionally assist North India handle its stubble burning downside on the finish of the rice season.

But the report additionally mentioned it’s vital to correctly fund these options.

India’s issues get exacerbated because it faces a sand scarcity.

According to the Sand Mining Framework, 2018, the demand for sand in India is round 700 million tonnes (in 2017) and it’s rising on the charge of six-seven per cent yearly.

Experts say authorities businesses must work continually on sand mining. And civil society too must step in. The malaise has left native folks extraordinarily susceptible to floods, land loss, contaminated consuming water and crop injury.

So, how efficient are the present legal guidelines?

Every mining exercise requires environmental clearances below a number of legal guidelines.

The atmosphere ministry, with its ‘Enforcement & Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining 2020’, regulates sand mining and checks unlawful mining. This was launched 4 years later after a earlier effort failed miserably.

The authorities has particular insurance policies to control sand mining and its ‘sustainable’ use. But it clearly wants extra tooth and chew. Activists who’ve taken on the mafia have typically endured vicious pushback from numerous quarters.

After all, who loves a whistle-blower when there’s dough to be created from sand greed.

The creator is CEO of nnis. Views expressed are private.

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