Confusion over sand-mining norms in Kerala sparks concern

A notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change prescribing regulations on river sand mining is feared to result in a mismatch with the State legislation on the issue, sparking concern over its implications on the protection of the ravaged rivers in Kerala.

The notification issued on January 15 mandates the creation of a District Environment Impact Assessment Authority empowered to issue environmental clearance for sand mining below five hectares. It prescribes guidelines for the preparation of a district survey report to identify river sand resources, protection of the riverine ecology and steps to check illegal mining.

Panels on sand mining

In Kerala, district-level expert committees chaired by the respective District Collectors have been constituted under the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act, 2001 to identify the locations for river sand mining. In June last year, the State government had imposed a total ban on sand mining from six rivers and imposed restrictions on mining from five rivers for a three-year period. The decision was based on the sand audit report of 11 rivers prepared in accordance with the state Act.

Experts and environmental activists fear that the uncertainty over which would prevail, the State Act or the Central notification, would create a situation for illegal mining to flourish in the State. “Unless the issue is clarified, confusion will prevail, setting the stage for unscientific exploitation of river sand resources,” says Latha Anantha, Director, River Research Centre.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 4:19:42 AM |

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