The impact of illegal sand mining is being felt at Raigad district in Maharashtra too. Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Awaaz Foundation identified 25 trees uprooted by alleged mechanical dredging at Nandgaon beach, located 130 km south of the city.
The NGO filed a complaint with the Raigad district collector and Konkan divisional commissioner on Thursday, highlighting the erosion caused by sand mining. The complaint states that the illegal activity also resulted in a drop in the level of the beach near Alibaug.
HT had reported on Tuesday that after the NGO identified illegal sand mining at several locations at Raigad, the state government drafted an action plan to prevent the activity across the district.
“Illegal sand mining is not only confined to select creeks or beaches in Raigad, but is spreading to remote beaches too. Beaches around Alibaug are promoted as tourist destinations, however, sand mining directly affects the interface between land and sea. If the mining continues, these beaches will vanish,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.
As miners usually depend on cows to transport the sand, she added that the presence of hoof marks in the area indicated that the illegal activity was ongoing.
In 2014, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned sand mining in the coastal regions of several states, including Maharashtra, citing its harmful impact on the environment. In 2016, the ban was lifted in the state’s coastal districts of Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Thane, after the state promised the NGT that it would take steps to protect the environment.
However, Bombay high court and Supreme Court orders, as well as a coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification, make it clear that mining sand from beaches — in any circumstances — is prohibited across the country.
Officials from the local district collector’s office said they will investigate. “We have not received the complaint yet. However, beach sand mining is a serious issue. We have started cracking down on such sites with the help of the police and home guards. A team will be deputed to Nandgaon,” said a senior official.
HT had reported in May last year that sand mining at Kihim had led to a 70% decline and 10-feet drop in sand at the beach.
Officials from the state environment department said they were keeping a watch on illegal sand mining across the state. “Collectors from each district were asked to file reports regarding what steps they took against violators after the action plan was implemented. We will take stock of the situation soon,” said Satish Gavai, principal secretary, state environment department.
Why you should care
Sand mining is a major environmental concern, which may threaten the existence of more than 70% of the world’s beaches. It is likely to contribute to major land erosion, compromising water security, affecting climate and causing fatal calamities.