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Environment Minister asks States to enforce strict laws to curb illegal Sand Mining

Giving a stern warning to the Sand Mafias, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, stated that the situation will be reviewed and those found not abiding shall be punished. The Union Minister stated that despite the new sustainable sand mining rules and regulations being passed, many states and regions are not abiding by the rules. He was speaking on the occasion of the 15th National Forest Martyrs Day. On the occasion he remembered a forest home guard Kewal Singh who was mowed down by a tractor when he along with his colleague tried to stop suspected members of a mining mafia inside the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar.

The Minister appealed to the state governments to take the issue of sand mining mafias seriously and impose strict laws to bring an end to the practice. He appealed that sustainable sand mining must be practiced so as to prevent the depletion of natural resources from river beds. In order to prevent the river beds from drying completely, sustainable sand mining must be practiced and killings of foresters or revenue staff working towards the initiative of sustainable sand mining is completely unacceptable and that steps will be taken to make sure the offenders are punished.

Illegal and unscientific riverbed sand mining has caused lot of ecological damage. Studies have shown that frequent flooding seen in several rivers in India is the result of rampant river sand mining undertaken by the greedy mafia. Several mangrove forests had been destroyed by illegal construction of storage docks, roads and other infrastructure to facilitate easy removal, storage and transfer of sand from the river.

Sand being a minor mineral, the regulation of grant of mineral concessions for minor minerals is, therefore, within the legislative and administrative domain of the state governments. As a result, laws relating sand mining varies from state to state. Only thing which is common in sand mining in almost every state is that it is controlled by mafias often with the blessings of politicians. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, which, inter-alia, addresses the issues relating to regulation of sand mining.

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