Put sand mining on UNDP agenda: activist

Activist Sumaira Abdulali’s Awaaz Foundation on Sunday sought the intervention of the United Nations to take up the issue of sand mining, highlighting that it wasn’t just a local issue, but one with global ramifications. Ms. Abdulali, who has been fighting the sand mafia in Maharashtra for years, met the Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Erik Solheim.

“Sand mining is an international environmental problem as it is believed that over 70 per cent of the world’s beaches are disappearing. India has begun to import sand to meet its requirements and has recently proposed beach nourishment plans for some Mumbai beaches, which would require large recurring quantities of high quality sand every few years. This is transferring the problem to another part of the world and this is where the UN comes in,” Ms. Abdulali said.

The Awaaz Foundation requested Mr. Solheim to place sand mining and international trade in illegally-mined sand on the agenda of the United Nations Environment Programme. “The UN, which considers coastal and marine issues among its topmost concerns, needs to globalise a programme to recycle debris, industrial waste, glass and plastics for use in construction,” she said.

India has developed some models for use of recycled materials in construction, like roads constructed from recycled plastic and recycled debris used for low-rise buildings. Awaaz Foundation issued a press statement in which it said Mr. Solheim has promised to study the issue and has asked for additional data on this as it is related to illegal sand mining and international trade in sand.