We need to get rid off sand mafia-min
This sand mafia is not only becoming a dangerous element in the society but is also harming ecological system through illegal and unscientific, excessive mining. Usage of drones, satellite mapping, etc, are all on paper with tractor loads of sand being mined illegally every day right under the nose of authorities
There may be hardly any state in India which is not affected by the sand mafia who have been destroying beaches and riverbeds across the country. Mafia writes its own rules and regulations, punishes those who oppose its activities and ensures that realty and construction sector is at its mercy. This mafia is least bothered about the environment and is often protected by those who are supposed to be punishing them.
A few years ago, a civil servant in UP lost her job when she tried to clamp down on the practice of illegal sand mining in her state. A few days ago, a forest officer in Punjab was left critically injured after he and other officials were attacked by people from the state’s illegal sand mafia. These are not sporadic incidents but is a general trend, usually overlooked by the authorities and often ignored by the media.
This sand mafia is not only becoming a dangerous element in the society but is also harming ecological system through illegal and unscientific, excessive mining. Usage of drones, satellite mapping, etc, are all on paper with tractor loads of sand being mined illegally every day right under the nose of authorities.
Sand is a “minor mineral” and under the current legal set up, administrative control over minor minerals is with the state governments, which have the powers to make rules to govern minor minerals. Accordingly, different state governments have made different rules for awarding, regulating and administering the sand concessions granted under those rules. However, sand mafia is common menace afflicting all the states in India with many people who opposed the mafia having lost their lives. It is an unequal war with mafia often supported by power local politicians on the one side and few self-motivated activists with no support whatsoever from anyone on the other side.
Though not categorised as essential commodity, sand is a widely used commodity whose demand is continuously increasing with increasing infrastructure development of the country, and is widely used across the country by common citizens. As per estimate, the demand of sand is around 700 million tonnes per annum (FY17) and it is increasing at the rate of 6-7%. However, production and supply of sand is not uniform and its availability depends upon rain and replenishment rate of sand in rivers. Due to uncertainties in supply, the selling rate of the material varies significantly with shortages in supply leading to black marketing and illegal mining of the mineral.
Though the supply situation in many states have improved post the Central government issuing guidelines on the recommendations of Sand Committee, the problem of sand mafia still persists and is going on unabated. Recent incident of Punjab is a case in point.
Steps need to be taken against the sand mafia immediately and we cannot wait till an alternative to sand is invented by the scientists. Though stringent measures have been suggested in the guidelines, till now we haven’t heard a single sand mafia person being punished for the crime. Unless the wrongdoers are shown the right place, the problem of sand mafia will continue till the sand deposits get exhausted.
By tinkering with rules and regulations India can move up by few notches in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking while ground realities remaining almost unchanged. Informal hurdles on the path of doing business, like sand mafia, will ensure that India will always remain at the bottom of the favourites’ list for international investors. There should be ruthless handling of mafia and strict enforcement of law. Then only investors will start regarding India as an ideal destination for “Make in India.”