South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People about Sandrp
(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.)
मुरैना के अधीन आने वाले धौलपुर बार्डर से सटे चंबल नदी के घाट पर रेत का अवैध खनन हो रहा है। यह खनन माफिया द्वारा बड़ी-बड़ी जेसीबी व
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.
Excessive, mechanized govt sponsored riverbed mining has hollowed out riverbed minerals rom Somb and Yamuna in Yamuna Nagar district, Haryana resulting in riverbank erosion, groundwater depletion, decline in migratory water birds, aquatic life in the rivers. Bhim Singh Rawat/ SANDRP Nov. 2022.
In subsequent parts of yearend overviews, we would cover impact of riverbed mining on infrastructures, people’s agitations against the destructive mining operations, steps being taken by various state governments on riverbed mining, judicial interventions to check unsustainable, illegal mining activities in 2022.
In the final part, we would track the human death toll and violent incidents involving riverbed mining operations in India in 2022.
CHAMBAL Madhya Pradesh Sand mining ravaging Chambal Sanctuary The reports evidently reveal the proliferation of unabated destructive sand mining activities in and around National Chambal River Sanctuary area particularly near Rajghat bridge on Morena side of Madhya Pradesh despite a ban by Supreme Court.
The mechanized, excessive mining along the banks and through flowing course of river have been impacting the endangered gharial, turtle and several other aquatic, riparian species in the worst possible manner apart from posing safety threat to Rajghat bridge structure. https://sandrp.in/2022/05/08/govts-judiciary-fail-as-sand-mining-ravaging-chambal-sanctuary/ (8 May 2022)
Gharial, Turtle eggs broken by sand mafiaIllegal sand mining adjacent to Dholpur border under Morena by mafia with big JCB and Hydra machines have damaged the eggs of Batagur turtles and gharials laid along the sandy banks of Chambal. Both these animals come under the category of protected species.
More than 1500 vehicles are involved in indiscriminate sand mining and transportation at the ghat. Big JCB machines are engaged in digging day and night and sand is being taken to Morena, Dholpur and Gwalior by tractor trolleys. https://www.bhaskar.com/local/mp/gwalior/morena/news/the-sand-mafia-broke-their-eggs-watching-the-forest-and-district-administration-became-mute-129734288.html (29 Apr 2022)
The sand being offloaded from boats and taken to trucks waiting on the banks of the Kulsi. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar/Front Line
Protecting red-crowned roofed turtle The Batagur kachuga or the red-crowned roofed turtle is found in India, Nepal & Bangladesh. In India, the Chambal sanctuary is among its last viable habitats. But a number of factors make the Chambal sanctuary vulnerable not only for this species but for all freshwater turtles. For one, illegal sand mining is a threat to these animals that use the sandy riverbank for basking as well as nesting. Other problems include pumping out water from the Chambal river for agriculture in lean seasons and overfishing. Additionally, the turtles have to compete for space on the sandbanks with vine crops such as watermelons, cucumbers and musk melons.
Legalising sand mining in Chambal sanctuary would be major disasterIn June 2022, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) found itself considering a proposal by the Madhya Pradesh govt to denotify almost 300 ha of Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary for legal sand mining. The MP govt says the move would reduce wasteful expenditure on monitoring illegal sand mining, while simultaneously increasing state revenue, helping meet local livelihoods’ needs, & protecting the environment. Proposal for a major disaster. https://thebastion.co.in/politics-and/environment/conservation-and-development/profits-protection-and-people-is-legalising-sand-mining-in-mps-chambal-sanctuary-worth-it/ (22 Jul 2022)
Why sand mining in Chambal is not right While the area opened for sand mining is around half a per cent of NCWS’s total size, the decision could, environmentalists fear, effectively legalise illegal sand mining.
In addition, various lobbies may use the NBWL order as a precedent to pressure central and state govts to open up other protected areas for extractive industries.
The NBWL order also goes against the Gwalior bench of the MP high court ruling that banned sand mining in 2006 for safeguarding gharials, Indian skimmers, and other animal species that make the sanctuary their home. https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/why-sand-mining-in-chambal-is-not-right-101662044493712.html (1 Sep 2022)……….