NGT’s recent ban on unauthorised sand-mining

The National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s recent ban on unauthorised river sand-mining is expected to go a long way in saving the Bharathapuzha.

The order is expected to save many rivers in the State which have been over-exploited and destroyed by sand-mining. Various committees had pointed out that sand-mining caused erosion of riverbanks, reduction of flow, and a consequent destruction of river eco-systems.

The Bharathapuzha used to get dried up, with very little or no flow, during summer months.

An expert committee appointed by the State government in February 1997 had recommended a ban on sand-mining during monsoon months and strict curbs during summer. It had also recommended a ban on sand-mining in a one-km stretch from all major bridges across the river.

The committee had recommended a ban on sand extraction from the river between Thirunavai and Chamravattom to prevent saline water intrusion.

The committee had stated that the Bharathapuzha faced the problem of ‘excessive sand-mining, lowering of water table in and around the river, lowering of the riverbed, encroachments on the banks and bed of the river, and contamination of water.’

It had also sought a ban on vehicle entering the river channels to collect sand.

“The presence of sand cover enhances the seepage of water and sustaining capacity of the ground water levels. Hence, excessive sand extraction leads to lowering of the retaining capacity of water and thus leads to lowering of water levels,” Indanur Gopi, secretary, Bharathapuzha Samrakshana Samithi, said.

The lowering of water level would have adverse effects on the groundwater level in the valley adjoining the river and should not be allowed considering the critical and serious water shortage in the region, he said.

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