Madhya Pradesh has registered 6,719 cases of unauthorised transportation of minerals this year alone.
Sources in the state mineral resources department came up with the astounding figure a day after chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that mining will be banned in the Amarkantak area, the source of the Narmada river.
Apart from this there were also 384 cases of illegal mining registered this year in the state, the sources revealed.
The state is also witnessing a surge in violence by mining mafia, which has created terror in many areas like Chambal, where even police is attacked by the mafia. Over 600 cases of illegal transportation of minerals were lodged in Chambal this year.
On Sunday, a 50-year-old farmer was brutally crushed under an excavator by illegal miners for trying to prevent them from taking boulders and rubble from his agricultural land in Chhatarpur district’s Hama village.
It is not just mining in the river that is worrying environmentalists. In August inspection carried out jointly by officials of ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), central pollution control board (CPCB) and MP state pollution control board (MPSPCB) found that the discharges from mining activity at country’s largest copper mine in Balaghat was contaminating surrounding water bodies and ground water with heavy metals like lead, copper, chromium, nickel and iron, besides dissolved solids. The copper mine is located 20 km away from the Kanha National Park.
The illegal mining is also affecting the wildlife in the state. According to Nityanand Mishra, who has filed a case in the NGT, illegal sand mining along Son River was endangering the survival of the critically endangered Gharials in the Son Gharial Sanctuary in Sidhi district. Last month, the Green Panel directed the state government to take strong measures to check it.
The extent of the illegal mining in the state can be gauged by the fact that RD Prajapati, a BJP MLA from Chhatarpur district opened a front against illegal sand mining in his district in June this year going against his own-party led state government.
He even wrote a letter to Chouhan threatening to go on an indefinite hunger strike if the issue was not addressed.
Even the pits left behind after mining, especially in case of minor minerals like murram and stones, too are causing major problems. In September, seven children, aged 10 to 14, drowned while bathing in a rain water-filled stone quarry in Guna district. Overall over a dozen children have died drowning in such pits in last one year.
Environmentalists said state government’s failure to check illegal mining would have a disastrous impact on the environment in the long run.
Even the central bench of the National Green Tribunal in Bhopal has repeatedly expressed its concern over rampant illegal mining in its various hearings and even lashed out at the state government for its failure to check it.
Environmentalist Subhash Pandey said illegal sand mining in the rivers reduces the holding capacity of rivers and this leads to more runoff and less seepage to ground water.
What the state government has to say?
Speaking to HT, director mineral resources department VK Austin said the state government has decided to take the advice of the experts on the issue of sand mining and its impact on the Narmada River.
He said CM has already announced a ban on mining activity in Amarkantak.
“Senior officials and experts in our department are discussing the long term initiatives that need to be taken to check illegal mining activities in the state,” he said.
He agreed violence committed by mining mafia in various parts of the state had created law and problems.
MAFIA’S ACTS OF AGGRESSION
December 11: Farmer allegedly killed by illegal miners after he protested their operations on his agricultural land in Chhatarpur district
October 16: Illegal miners exchange fire with police in Bhind district, one labourer injured
Sand mafia gives death threat to police officer in Singrauli district after he seized their tractor June 1: Raisen district sub-divisional magistrate DK Singh gheroed by mining mafia when he tried to stop their operations
April 2: Mining mafia attacks forest guard in Shivpuri district for taking action against them
March 20: Sand mafia tries to mow down two forest officials in Tikamgarh district when they tried to stop their trolley carrying illegally mined sand
March 16: Burhanpur sub-divisional magistrate KR Badole attacked by sand mafia after he tried to stop mining in Tapti river
March 6: Forest guard killed in Gwalior while chasing illegal sand miners
Two warring mafias exchange n fire in Morena district over control of Jaur-Khurd area, teenage boy killed in crossfire.