Sand mining – An unexamined threat to water security

Sand is a resource whose economic value belies the crucial role it plays in our lives. The process of development in India has so far not taken into account the environmental and social consequences of indiscriminate sand mining.

In fact, sand mining is surprisingly an intensely politicised phenomenon that has gone unchecked for many decades in the country. However, with supply sources being mined faster than nature’s factory can replenish, we are coming up against new challenges that go beyond a mere short supply of a specific resource.

Research has now discovered that indiscriminate mining of sand from riverbeds, creeks and beaches has cumulative effects and potentially devastating consequences for the society that depends on those environments directly and indirectly. These effects, particularly those related to water security in the region are a cause for grave concern. According to United Nations definitions, India is already officially classified as water stressed.

A recent report by HSBC too states that water availability is expected to be dangerously near extreme scarcity levels by 2030. This article attempts to tease out the bigger picture about the dangers of dredging indiscriminately in the quest for modernization and how these threats are compounded by corruption in the sector and a lack of integrity. This situation presents a threat and an opportunity for innovation in both policy and industry.

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