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State plans to invite experts to study impact of mining on Narmada

The Madhya Pradesh government is planning to invite Indian and international experts to study sand mining’s impact on Narmada river, an official said here on Monday.

bhopal Updated: Dec 20, 2016 10:54 IST
Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh,impact of mining on Narmada,illegal sand mining on Narmada
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Dindori during Narmada Sewa Yatra. The yatra aims to make the river pollution free.(File photo)

The Madhya Pradesh government is planning to invite Indian and international experts to study sand mining’s impact on Narmada river, an official said here on Monday.

Illegal sand mining on Narmada - the lifeline of Madhya Pradesh - is reported on a regular basis. Experts say sand mining affects a river’s groundwater tables besides destroying habitat of biodiversity.

Mineral resources department director VK Austin said his department was planning to use services of experts at national or international-level for the study following the chief minister’s directive.

“Studying the impact of mining on Narmada will take a lot of time and will require expertise. We want to study how much sand quantum is being excavated, what is replenishing rate of the river and whether mining was affecting the river as a whole,” he said.

Austin said the department plans to float tenders for inviting experts or agencies to conduct the study. “After experts give their suggestions, the government will take a decision on whether to ban or limit sand mining in Narmada,” he said.

Before starting online auction process for sand mining in March 2015, the state government released a new sand mining policy to bring more areas under sand mining. After the policy was unveiled, sand mining area increased from 5,206 hectares to 9,946 hectares this year.

A network of criminals, also known as the sand mafia, is active on the Narmada riverbed and ravaging it with heavy machines to loot sand and sell it to builders. Police officers and activists, who fought against the sand mafia, were either attacked or threatened.

On December 12, a day after launching a five-month-long ‘Narmada Sewa Yatra’, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced banning of mining in Amarkantak - the river’s origin point. The yatra aims to make the river pollution free.

The state government is under pressure from the opposition to check sand mining on Narmada. Responding to a demand of Congress legislators in the assembly that a resolution should be passed on banning sand mining on Narmada, Chouhan on December 9 assured the house that his government will consult experts and environmentalists on the issue.

Union water resources minister Uma Bharti has described mining as the “biggest problem” for Narmada. “If mining is stopped, the sacred river will be automatically saved,” she said.


The 1312 km long Narmada river is the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent.

It originates from the Maikal ranges at Amarkantak,1057 m above the sea-level, in Annuppur district of MP.

It finds mention as one of the seven most sacred rivers in ancient texts and forms the traditional boundary between North India and South India.

It is one of only three major rivers in peninsular India that runs from east to west (largest west flowing river) along with the Tapti and Mahi.

It primarily flows through the Madhya Pradesh (1,077 km),Gujarat (161 km) and briefly through Maharashtra.

Narmada in Sanskrit means “the Giver of Pleasure”.

Narmada is joined by 41 tributaries, out of which 22 are from the Satpuda range and the rest on the right bank are from the Vindhya range.

First Published: Dec 20, 2016 10:33 IST