Need experiences and examples of conflicts over sand mining on river bed

From K. J. Joy, Suhas Paranjape and Shruti Vispute, Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, Pune
Posted 20 February 2009

I work with the Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM). We have been part of the Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, which is a collaborative initiative of individuals, institutions and organizations – both academic and civil society. The Forum has documented conflicts and published these in the form of a book titled “Water Conflicts in India: A Million Revolts in the Making”. More details about the forum are available at http://conflicts.indiawaterportal.org/

Mining contributes significantly to India’s GDP but has major environmental and social implications. Mining, for sand and minerals, has been one of the leading causes of conflicts across the country and there have been many agitations and legal interventions. Along with rock quarrying, mining for minerals like coal, iron ore, bauxite and limestone impacts the quality of water and drastically lowers the water table. Mining also results in sedimentation, affecting the storage capacity of dams. It leads to confrontations between local people and mining companies over loss of agricultural land, lack of access to water and rehabilitation.

Mining for sand and minerals has the following impacts and hence a potential for conflicts:

  1. It is a revenue resource for state governments and panchayats
  2. It is a source of livelihood for local people, usually fetching better incomes than farm labour
  3. Unregulated and indiscriminate sand mining affects the health of riverine ecosystems
  4. It affects the hydrology of rivers as sand acts as an aquifer and indiscriminate sand excavation leads to water scarcities, especially for drinking water in summer
  5. This scarcity affects agriculture and thereby local livelihoods
  6. Very often there is a nexus between local politicians-contractors-bureaucrats in this operation and the fight is between this nexus and the local people.

In this context, we request community members to share their experiences on the following issues:

  • Instances of conflicts over sand mining from river beds, giving details of the location of the conflict, the conflicting parties, issues at stake, present status and mining licensing issues
  • Other conflicts over mining in general, with similar details
  • What can be done to prevent such conflicts and lessons from their outcome?

We are documenting conflicts around water and this is the third in the series of queries. Once the series is complete, we will be compiling them and sharing them with members to study conflict resolution in different contexts.

Please see attachment below for the responses.

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