Illegal Sand Mining

Critically examine how illegal mining of river sand in various parts of India is affecting the ecology of rivers and lives of people in the vicinity of these rivers. (200 Words)

Due to boom in real estate/ construction activities specially in post liberalization era, there has been a major spike in the sand (beach and river basin ) requirement. It has resulted in unscientific and indiscriminate sand mining against the prescribed rules, also known as illegal sand mining. Many states of India like Tamil Nadu (Cauvery  etc., Karnataka, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra etc. have witnessed increased incidences in recent past. It has affected the river ecology and lives of people nearby as –
  1. It pollutes the rivers ( low PH, mix of various metal oxides, reduces oxygen and thus, increased BOD ). This badly affects river biota.
  2. Instream sand mining results in the destruction of aquatic and riparian habitat through large changes in the channel morphology. Impacts include bed degradation, bed coarsening, lowered water tables near the streambed, and channel instability.
  3. Polluted water and also reduced ground water levels due to sand mining lead to drinking water shortage and also agrarian distress in the vicinity, which in turn has triggered an exodus of people to urban clusters, upsetting the economic and cultural balance of a society. Also, creates social -tension
  4. The indiscriminate mining has also destroyed hills, eroded biodiversity spheres, denuded forests and degraded fertile soil. It has changed the physical characteristics of river basins, impacting heavily the socio-economic condition of local people.
Having said that, we certainly need sand for to meet the increasing demand. Sand mining also employs nearly 1.1 million in the country. Hence, the need to is better implement legislative mechanisms and various judicial pronouncements for sustainable sand mining. Effective and periodic monitoring is also a must.
Additionally, we should also look for quality yet affordable alternatives to sand to meet ever increasing demand for sand without compromising riverine ecology and badly affecting people nearby due to illegal sand mining.