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Issues of Sand Mining in Andhra Pradesh UPSC NOTE

 Issues of Sand Mining in Andhra Pradesh

  • Ever since it withdrew the free sand policy, the government has been fending off accusations that it is working hand in glove with the sand mafia and letting them go off the hook. 

  • Political charges aside, the fact that the State Department of Mines and Geology, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, and the State Expert Appraisal Committee of successive governments have been pulled up by courts and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for not ensuring due diligence in giving clearances shows that rules have been fragrantly violated.

  • During the previous government’s regime, an investigation by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board reportedly found that sand was being extracted beyond permissible limits with mechanical excavators by unlicensed contractors at various places. 

    • This was being done to meet the burgeoning requirement of the construction sector. 

    • The Board said this practice had caused irreparable damage to riverbeds and coastal ecosystems.

  • The new government in 2019, imposed a temporary ban on sand mining in order to streamline mining activities and check corruption. 

  • It later issued the New Sand Mining Policy to ensure that sand mining is carried out in a sustainable manner and complies with environmental regulations; make sand available at affordable prices; and raise valuable revenues to the State exchequer. 

    • The government appointed the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation as its ‘agent’ for achieving these objectives.

  • The government has claimed that the situation has improved. 

  • However, courts have exposed the deficiencies in the manner in which the government has been tackling the plundering of the minor mineral. 

  • In a recent order against illegal sand mining in Chittoor district, the Chennai Bench of the NGT declared permissions given for semi-mechanised mining at sand reaches in the B-2 category (lease areas measuring 5-25 hectares) and environmental clearances as illegal saying they violated the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016. 

  • Prima facie, a direction by the NGT to the Secretary of the Union Environment Ministry in the same order, inquiring about the amendments to environmental clearances that were granted, reveals the dark side of sand mining.

  • The NGT order also underlined the damage of this practice. 

  • It remarked that it has become a common practice for the Irrigation Departments in different States to permit sand mining in rivers in stretches less than 25 hectares with impunity oblivious of the need to protect the riverine ecosystems.

  • It can be possible only if sand replenishment studies and detailed environmental impact assessments are undertaken for the entire river basin, prior to mining. 

  • It warned that unscientific mining on riverine and wetland ecosystems including man-made water bodies can spell disaster and have long-term consequences for the riverine/lake ecosystems which in turn impact the well-being of the people.

  • It also noted that scientific studies are being avoided for short-term gains at the cost of environmental interests.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Issues of Sand Mining in Andhra Pradesh UPSC NOTE
Issues of Sand Mining in Andhra Pradesh UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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