Sand Mining

Context:
  • Sand is an important component for housing, infrastructure projects and construction activities.
  • There have been various issues across the country in mining activities related to sand like non availability of sand, environmental degradation, high sand prices, illegalities in sand mining etc.
  • The natural endowment of sand across many states is unable to meet the demand and is coupled with unease of extraction issues, pricing and illegalities in mining.
  • So there was need of uniform framework to help states to frame their policies, taking into consideration their objectives, endowments and state deployment of resources.
Sand Mining: It is an activity referring to the process of the actual removal of sand from the foreshore including rivers, streams and lakes.
Regulation of Sand Mining:
  • Sand is a minor mineral, as defined under section 3 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act,1957 (MMDR Act).
  • Rules relating to minor minerals are made by state governments.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 which inter-alia, addresses the issues relating to the regulation of sand mining.
Sand Mining Framework Launched:
  • The Union Ministry of Mines has launched Sand Mining Framework to help states deal with the sand mining issues, including demand supply deficit and illegal extraction.
  • Key Facts
    • The main objective of framework is to assist states in arriving at best possible options before them.
    • It also seeks to addresses issues of state objectives, demand-supply assessment and measures to sand availability, allocation model, transportation and monitoring mechanism.
    • Besides, it also includes suggestions for faster clearances and approvals and using its interventions in complete process chain of sand mining.
    • It also lays emphasis on alternatives of sand i.e. manufactured sand, import of sand etc.
Central Empowered Committee by SC:
  • In February 2020, Central Empowered Committee(CEC) was appointed by SC. Its mandate was to look into illegal sand mining in Rajasthan and submit a report suggesting measures to deal with it.
  • Recommendations:
    • It has recommended imposing a fine of Rs 10 lakh per vehicle and Rs 5 lakh per cubic meter of sand seized.
    • It has been said that no unregistered tractor should be used as a commercial vehicle to transport sand from the mining site to the transit depot.
    • Termination of all the khatedari leases located within 5 km from the riverbank, where violations are detected.
    • The scrapping of the excess royalty collection contract system.