The misuse

500 truckloads of sand is extracted in Dakshina Kannada every day and over-exploitation has left beaches in Mangalore starved of sand. A look by Govind D. Belgaumkar

Published - August 09, 2013 08:25 pm IST

Though growth is slowing down across sectors across the globe, the real estate scene in Mangalore and surrounding areas presents a different scene. By 2014 the city is expected to have 10,000-12000 flats – far higher than the demand, with observers suggesting that a real estate bubble is forming, needing a correction sooner or later. But this has meant much business for the sand miners and transporters. The Department of Mines and Geology suggests that over 500 truckloads of sand is extracted in Dakshina Kannada every day.

While the Government does not accept that a quantity of sand extracted here goes to Kerala and Lakshadweep, sand miners and transporters say this goes on clandestinely but activists say this happens though the administration is aware of it. A couple of years ago, half the quantity produced in Dakshina Kannada crossed the border, jacking up the prices in the local markets.

A semblance of control now exists after vehicles were fitted with the GPS system. About 800 vehicles in Dakshina Kannada are fitted with the equipment and their movement can be monitored by several officials including a couple of police officers, besides the office-bearers of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Sand Transporters’ Associations.

While Mayur Ullal, President of JAC, wants permission to transport limited quantity of sand to Kerala, city-based activist Hanumanth Kamath points out that greed will overtake considerations of ecology and environment and the safety of bridges (as miners would remove sand close to these structures as well).

Over-exploitation of sand from the rivers has had adverse ecological impact, according to K.S. Jayappa, Associate Professor, Department of Marine Geology, Mangalore University. He has stated that this has left beaches starved of sand. Pointing out that the source of sand for beaches is river systems alone, he has said currents in the water would take the sand to beaches and replenish the sand that is lost. Besides causing sea erosion during early monsoons, the sand-based bio-diversity is adversely hit.

In his estimation sand mining has increased ten-fold in as many years. Though the use of machines (such as JCB) is prohibited to prevent over-exploitation, they are being used by miners and the administration has failed to control it. The Mines and Geology Department blames it on shortage of staff.

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