Centre’s new guidelines stipulate use of technology to end illegal sand mining




Even as the state is in the midst of implementing various directions issued by the court to curb illegal sand mining, the Union ministry of environment forests and climate change has come out with fresh guidelines on sand mining.

The guidelines are for all types of sand mining, viz. through the river, lakes and reservoirs, agriculture fields, coastal sand and manufactured sand.

The new norms have said that states have to comply with the directions of the National Green Tribunal for effective monitoring and enforcement by identifying sand sources, mining according to plan, undertaking regular replenishment studies after environmental clearance and mining within the lease area.

The guidelines have basically laid down the uniform protocol to be followed by all states for monitoring and enforcement of rules. The gist of which is that enforcement of rules must continue even after the grant of green nod to the leaseholder through measures such as environment audit.

In case of river sand mining, which is pertinent to Goa, the guidelines have stipulated that precautions must be taken that the water flows unhindered and the river meandering does not get affected.

Furthermore no river mining must be permitted in an area up to width of 100 metre from the active

edge of the embankments or distance prescribed by the irrigation department.    

To curb illegal sand mining, the recommendation is to use of technology through remote surveillance, drones, etc. 

The states have been asked to monitor the movement of sand at different levels, for instance, at the time of sale and purchase at stockyards, and during transportation.

The guidelines have said that sand transportation must be carried out with valid transport permits, and should be checked through an online monitoring system.

The guidelines have recommended special monitoring near state borders.

To identify illegal sand mining, the MOEF has suggested field visits, use of GPS instruments and satellite images to calculate the mined out area.

The guidelines have aimed at optimal usage of sand resources and reduction in demand-supply gaps in availability of the material to the user industry.

The MOEF had earlier formulated the Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines 2016, which focused on the management of sand mining by different states.

The MOEF observed that apart from management and systematic mining practices there is an urgent need to have a guideline for effective enforcement of regulatory provision and their monitoring.

The guidelines have been issued after rampant illegal sand mining was witnessed in different states in 2018, where officers who tried to enforce the rules, lost their lives.

“Illegal sand mining has led to degradation of the environment and made states lose revenue,” the MOEF guidelines have said.