In order to regularise sand mining and protect the interest of those involved in the trade, the state government has requested the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) to conduct a chemical and physical analysis of the sand that gets accumulated at the mouth of various rivers in the state and study if it can be used for construction purposes.
Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral on Wednesday held a meeting with officials of NIO and other concerned departments to review the preliminary survey reports of the initiative taken for regularising sand mining in the state.
Speaking to this daily after the meeting, the minister said that the government has appointed NIO to carry out a scientific study on sand mining and is expecting a report in the next 8-10 days.
“In the first phase, the government has taken up four rivers – Chapora, Mandovi, Zuari and Cumbharjua. The NIO has already begun the work of monitoring and conducting a survey of the sand deposited at these river beds through water flow measuring mechanism at ten locations,” he said.
Cabral said that in the first 15 days, NIO has found 75,000 cubic metres of sand available at the mouth of Chapora river. The NIO team is similarly monitoring other such locations in Mandovi, Zuari and Cumbharjua rivers.
“In the past, the Captain of Ports used to dredge the rivers and the extracted sand was being deposited deep in the sea. Now, in order to make sand available in the state, for the first time, the government has taken steps to carry out a scientific study on the availability and usability of sand in the rivers,” he said.
The minister said that he has asked the NIO team to procure samples of sand that has accumulated at the mouth of River Chapora and compare it with samples of sand taken from Keri-Pernem and Karnataka and Maharashtra. The NIO will further conduct chemical and physical analysis of the samples procured.
It may be noted that sand from Keri-Pernem is considered the best for construction purposes in the state. Similar is the case with sand from Karnataka and Maharashtra.
“If this experiment succeeds, the government will go ahead with it. I will present the NIO report to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant,” Cabral said. He said that if quality of the sand from rivers is found to be good, it could prove to be a big relief for the state, which is currently facing a shortage of sand for construction of houses and other projects.
“If everything progresses as per our expectations, then the government may ask the department of mines and geology to auction these sites and it may be able to start legal sand mining by the end of October or the first week of November 2020,” the minister said.
Cabral also said that once everything is ready, the Chief Minister will take a call on how to go about the process of sand mining, whether it should be given to local persons or not. He suggested that identified sites could be allotted as minor mineral concession through auction. “However, the final call will be taken by the Chief Minister on whether it can be auctioned or taken up through some other process,” he said.