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Riverbed sand mining

  • IASbaba
  • February 15, 2022
  • 0
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Riverbed sand mining

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment 

Context: Environment clearance issued to as many as 60 mining areas has paved the way for legal mining of bajri (riverbed sand) in Rajasthan.

  • The Supreme Court had banned the sand mining activities four years ago in riverbeds until a scientific replenishment study was completed.
  • The apex court later appointed a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to look into the issue of illegal sand mining.
  • Recommendations: 
    • issue environmental clearance to all valid holders of letters of intent, as suggested by the Expert Appraisal Committee, within three months and
    • do not insist on submission of the scientific replenishment report as a precondition. 
    • The replenishment study could be undertaken during the course of mining.
  • The Supreme Court accepted the CEC’s recommendations permitting riverbed sand mining to be conducted after obtaining all statutory clearances and payment of applicable taxes.

What is riverbed sand mining?

  • Sand mining is the extraction of sand, mainly through an open pit but sometimes mined from beaches and inland dunes or dredged from ocean and river beds.
  • Uses:
    • Sand is often used in manufacturing as an abrasive or in concrete.
    • Sand mining helps in extracting rutile, ilmenite, and zircon, which contain the industrially useful elements titanium and zirconium.
  • Ill-effects: 
    • Sand mining is a direct cause of erosion, and impacts the local wildlife.
    • Various animals depend on sandy beaches for nesting clutches, and mining has led to the near extinction of gharials in India.
    • Disturbance of underwater and coastal sand causes turbidity in the water, which is harmful for organisms like coral that need sunlight. 
    • It can also destroy fisheries, financially harming their operators.

News Source: TH

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