Rivers in northern West Bengal are rich sources of sand.(HT Photo)
Rivers in northern West Bengal are rich sources of sand.(HT Photo)

Green hopes run dry as rampant mining goes unchecked in Bengal

Rampant sand mining and excavation of boulders from river beds are threatening the ecology of several rivers in West Bengal, so much so that even chief minister Mamata Banerjee recently asked the authorities to monitor their activities.
By Joydeep Thakur and Pramod Giri | Hindustan Times, Kolkata/siliguri
UPDATED ON JUL 11, 2016 12:35 PM IST

As literary experts would attest, the Patal-Bari — a heritage building on the banks of the Hooghly at Chandernagore — is immortalised in several novels penned by celebrated author Rabindranath Tagore. However, if sand miners in West Bengal have their way, the pages of his books would end up becoming the only place it exists in.

“Rampant mining of sand from the river bed is to be blamed… it’s threatening the very foundations of buildings like the Patal-Bari. Besides this, several other residential buildings in the town – including the office of the Red Cross Society – have also begun developing cracks,” says Biswajit Mukherjee, a former chief environment law officer of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, pointing at a long crack running along the length of a Patal-Bari wall.

Rampant sand mining and excavation of boulders from river beds are threatening the ecology of several rivers in West Bengal, so much so that even chief minister Mamata Banerjee recently asked the authorities to monitor their activities.

“All the three major river basins of the state – the Bhagirathi-Hooghly basin, Damodar basin and Teesta basin – are being threatened by this illegal industry. The authorities, including police personnel, know what’s happening but do little to stop it,” said an irrigation department official.

Experts say the real estate boom in West Bengal and nearby states is aggravating the problem.

However, cracking down on such illegal units would cause considerable inconvenience to officials as well as residents – not only would this mean less flow of cash to political parties, the common man would also be hit by the consequent rise in the cost of construction and raw material.

AN ECOLOGICAL DISASTER

THE PROBLEM AT HAND: Sand mining and excavation of boulders and stone chips from the river bed. The basins of all major rivers – Hooghly, Damodar and Teesta – are affected.
THE REASON:Boom in real estate industry and construction projects such as highways and bridges.
ECOLOGICAL CONCERNS: River bank erosion, dilapidation of riverside structures, degradation of the river’s ecosystem, and enlargement of river mouth due to lessening silt deposits.
WHO ARE INVOLVED: Sand miners hand-in-glove with government officials, politicians and police.
EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM: As the operation is entirely illegal, authorities have no idea about its quantum. But estimates suggest that there are at least 500 quarries in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts alone.

Mining activities, meanwhile, continue to take a toll on the environment.

“Sand mining not only erodes river banks but also degrades the river’s ecosystem, affecting fishes and dolphins. Besides this, depletion of sand in the streambed deepens rivers and estuaries and enlarges river mouths and coastal inlets – leading to the intrusion of saline water from the sea,” says BC Barman, deputy director (hydraulics) at the River Research Institute in Nadia.

Many rivers in northern West Bengal have turned out to be rich sources of boulders, sand and stone chips for illegal miners – who excavate and transport the raw material to places within the state as well as Bihar and Bangladesh.

“There are at least 500 quarries, many of them illegal, in the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts,” says an irrigation department engineer.

According to Upendra Kumar Dhruv, assistant commissioner of the Siliguri custom division, 350 to 400 trucks filled with boulders cross over to Bangladesh every day through the Chengrabanda and Fulbari borders.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
It took many hours for forest officials to remove the calf to a nearby elephant rehabilitation centre after firing sedation shots. (K Santosh/HT PHOTO).
It took many hours for forest officials to remove the calf to a nearby elephant rehabilitation centre after firing sedation shots. (K Santosh/HT PHOTO).

Wild elephant found dead in Kerala’s Kallar, calf’s plight moves forest staff

By Ramesh Babu | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 04:44 PM IST
  • Rubber tappers of the estate first noticed the carcass of the wild elephant and trumpeting baby in the morning and alerted forest officials. They were not allowed to come near the carcass by the angry baby elephant. And it took nearly five hours for officials to remove it from the site.
Close
“I am urgently soliciting the assistance of your Government to have access to 200,000 doses (for 100,000 citizens) of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured in your country," she wrote.(Facebook/@SupportMiaMottley)
“I am urgently soliciting the assistance of your Government to have access to 200,000 doses (for 100,000 citizens) of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured in your country," she wrote.(Facebook/@SupportMiaMottley)

Barbados PM writes to PM Modi seeking 2 lakh doses of Covishield

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Srivatsan K C
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 04:46 PM IST
Under the Vaccine Maitri commitment, India has already been shipping consignments of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in India - Covishield, and Covaxin by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech - to its neighbours.
Close
A student wearing a face mask and protective gloves attends a class at Govt Sarvodaya Girls Senior Secondary School in Delhi on January 18.(Raj K Raj / HT Photo)
A student wearing a face mask and protective gloves attends a class at Govt Sarvodaya Girls Senior Secondary School in Delhi on January 18.(Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Mask mandate, immunity, climate helped India lower Covid-19 cases: Report

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Arpan Rai
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 04:17 PM IST
The report quoted health policy expert Genevie Fernandes who said mask mandates are one of the things that may have helped bring down India's Covid-19 caseload.
Close
PM Modi arrived in Kolkata on Saturday afternoon to take part in the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.(Photo: PMOIndia/ Twitter)
PM Modi arrived in Kolkata on Saturday afternoon to take part in the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.(Photo: PMOIndia/ Twitter)

PM Modi reaches Victoria Memorial in Kolkata; CM Mamata, Guv in attendance

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Arpan Rai
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 04:47 PM IST
PM Modi arrived in Kolkata on Saturday afternoon to take part in the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Close
Ministry of Labour and Employment tableau at the Republic Day parade this year will depict the labour reforms brought in by the government.(PIB)
Ministry of Labour and Employment tableau at the Republic Day parade this year will depict the labour reforms brought in by the government.(PIB)

R-Day: Tableau by labour ministry to depict changes brought in by labour reforms

Written by Prashasti Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 04:04 PM IST
India will celebrate its 72nd Republic Day on January 26. The country's Constitution came into effect on this day in 1950.
Close
The e-EPIC initiative would be launched in two phases. In the first phase from January 25 to 31, all new voters who have applied for the voter-ID card and registered their mobile numbers in Form-6 will be able to download the e-EPIC by simply authenticating their mobile number.
The e-EPIC initiative would be launched in two phases. In the first phase from January 25 to 31, all new voters who have applied for the voter-ID card and registered their mobile numbers in Form-6 will be able to download the e-EPIC by simply authenticating their mobile number.

ECI to launch Digital Voter-ID cards on National Voter's Day

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 04:01 PM IST
The digitalisation of voter-ID card will have a special significance in the upcoming polls in five states, namely, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Close
Soldiers on T-90 (Bhisma) tanks march along the Rajpath during the full dress rehearsal for the upcoming Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2021. (AP)
Soldiers on T-90 (Bhisma) tanks march along the Rajpath during the full dress rehearsal for the upcoming Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2021. (AP)

From Pinaka to Bhishma Tank: India to showcase its weapons on R-Day

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 03:44 PM IST
The BrahMos missile, a joint venture of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya, has a maximum speed of 2.8 Mach (around 3,450 kmph or 2,148 mph) and is difficult to intercept by surface-to-air missiles.
Close
Last year too, the state election commissioner had been involved in a controversy in the run-up to the Panchayat polls. In the polls, more than one third of the seats were won by the TMC without any contest..(HT)
Last year too, the state election commissioner had been involved in a controversy in the run-up to the Panchayat polls. In the polls, more than one third of the seats were won by the TMC without any contest..(HT)

Andhra gram panchayat polls will be held as scheduled: State election commission

ANI, Andhra Pradesh
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 03:26 PM IST
The SEC said it will call on collectors, DGP, Chief Secretary, Panchayati Raj Principal secretary, and other officials today around 3 pm.
Close
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee leads a massive crowd during the celebration rally to mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in Kolkata on Saturday. (ANI PHOTO).
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee leads a massive crowd during the celebration rally to mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in Kolkata on Saturday. (ANI PHOTO).

4 rotating capitals in 4 corners of India, demands CM Mamata ahead of PM’s visit

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 03:23 PM IST
  • The Bengal CM made the remark a few hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to arrive in Kolkata for six-hours to celebrate Netaji’s birth anniversary.
Close
Venkaiah Naidu was addressing the officer trainees attending the foundation course at the MCR Human Resource Development Institute of the Telangana government in Hyderabad to mark the birth anniversary of Bose.
Venkaiah Naidu was addressing the officer trainees attending the foundation course at the MCR Human Resource Development Institute of the Telangana government in Hyderabad to mark the birth anniversary of Bose.

Youngsters should take inspiration from Netaji's life: Venkaiah Naidu

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 03:03 PM IST
The vice president recalled that Bose believed in giving an equal pedestal to women in every sphere of life -- be it social, economic, or political.
Close
Farmers on Friday presented a masked man who himself admitted that he was sent to Singhu to create violence. (Photo: ANI)
Farmers on Friday presented a masked man who himself admitted that he was sent to Singhu to create violence. (Photo: ANI)

Masked man's 'plot' to incite violence at Singhu, 'U-turn': What we know so far

Written by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 03:00 PM IST
Claims and counter-claims are being made over who planted the masked man who first claimed that he was sent to create disruption at farmers' protest and then denied.
Close
A statue of Indian nationalist leader Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is pictured with a garland, as supporters celebrated his 125th birth anniversary, in Amritsar.(AP)
A statue of Indian nationalist leader Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is pictured with a garland, as supporters celebrated his 125th birth anniversary, in Amritsar.(AP)

On Parakram Diwas, a look at Bose’s Indian National Army

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:47 PM IST
Under Bose's leadership, there was a swell of volunteers in the INA. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose named the brigades/regiments of INA after Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Azad, and himself. There was also an all-women regiment named after Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmibai.
Close
The tunnel appears to be over six years old, said the BSF.(Sourced Photo)
The tunnel appears to be over six years old, said the BSF.(Sourced Photo)

Another Pakistan terror-tunnel found in Jammu, 4th in last 6 months

By Ravi Krishnan Khajuria | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Jammu
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:44 PM IST
  • The tunnel appears to be six to eight years old and it has been found at the same place where BSF had shot down a Pakistani drone last year on June 20, said the BSF IG.
Close
On January 19, New Delhi announced its grant assistance of vaccines to the neighbouring countries.(AP)
On January 19, New Delhi announced its grant assistance of vaccines to the neighbouring countries.(AP)

WHO chief thanks India, PM Modi for 'support to global Covid-19 response'

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Susmita Pakrasi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:40 PM IST
  • In the last few days, India has supplied Covid-19 vaccines, being manufactured in the country, to neighbouring countries including Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Close
AAP MLA Somnath Bharti along with party workers protest after police officials stopped party MLAs to meet CM Arvind Kejriwal outside party office, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)
AAP MLA Somnath Bharti along with party workers protest after police officials stopped party MLAs to meet CM Arvind Kejriwal outside party office, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Somnath Bharti gets 2 years in jail for assaulting security staff at AIIMS

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 02:37 PM IST
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey also imposed a fine of one lakh on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP