Kali Bachao Andolan






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Impact of sand mining

Crores of rupees worth of sand is being looted in Kali Valley in the areas of Chandewadi and Ilavadabe forests, which surround the Pandari river, a tributary of Kali.   This ongoing illegal sand mining is also affecting the ecology of the forest area and the Kali River and its tributaries.

Illegal sand mining

As per a recent Supreme court order, the law of Ministry of Environment  & Forests, and the Department of Mines & Geology (DMG), mining in forest areas is illegal.  Yet, sand mining is rampant in the Chandewadi and Ilavadabe forests.

In an area of about 1200 acres of forestland in the Ilavadabe forests, mechanized sand mining is being done for several years.  In this forest area, a minimum of 400 trucks haul sand every day. 

In the Chandewadi forest area, a few km away from the Supa dam, 22 machines operate round the clock and mine sand from the Pandari River. In the past 6 years since mining commenced here, the number of machines have increased from 3 to 22.  Every day, 100 trucks of sand are hauled out of this area.  In 2001-2002, it has been estimated that about 45,000 trucks of sand have been mined.  

While it is illegal to mine sand in forest areas, the DMG has nevertheless issued “temporary” licenses for sand mining, probably due to political influences.  However, even here, there appears to be rampant corruption – for the same survey area, multiple people have been issued licenses. In addition, there does not appear to be any correlation between the issued licenses and areas being mined. This illegal sand mining is leading to a loss of revenue to the tune of at least Rs. 10 crores.  It is reported that each truckload of sand fetches about Rs.4500 in the market.

All this illegal mining is being ignored by DMG, Karwar, the Forest Department in Sirsi, the Revenue Department, as well as the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited.

Newspapers report that while there are over 400 people working here, none of them are local people – they all speak Marathi.  In addition, if anyone raises their voice against the illegal mining, there is a threat to their life. There appears to be a mining mafia in the area with political influence.

In fact, not many local citizens are aware that the ongoing sand mining is illegal.  Parisara Samrakshana Kendra (PSK) has been trying to bring about awareness about this amongst the people via the Kali Bachao Andolan.

Impacts of Sand Mining

In Tamil Nadu, after intense studies in different regions and interaction with the affected people, the Campaign for the Protection of Water Resources has identified 15 adverse consequences of sand mining. They include the depletion of groundwater; lesser availability of water for industrial, agricultural and drinking purposes; destruction of agricultural land; loss of employment to farm workers; threat to livelihoods; human rights violations; and damage to roads and bridges.

Several of these effects are also applicable to the case of sand mining in the Kali Valley.  It has been reported that upto 2500 acres of forestland has been affected by the ongoing illegal sand mining.  Mining around dam areas is dangerous and poses threats of earthquake.

According to newspaper reports, the width and depth of the Pandari River in certain areas has increased 3-4 times.  In addition, the forest area through which Pandari River flows is also being destroyed.

(Note prepared by Padmashree Raghavan, Environment Support Group.)