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  • 02 June, 2021

  • 12 Min Read



  • Sand shall not be treated as a minor mineral when used for any of the following purposes namely;
    1. purpose of refractory and manufacturer of ceramic,
    2. metallurgical purposes,
    3. optical purposes,
    4. purposes of stowing in coal mines,
    5. for the manufacture of silvicrete cement,
    6. manufacture of sodium silicate and
    7. manufacture of pottery and glass.
  • Under MMDRA, 1957 Sand is a minor mineral and sand mining is regulated by State Govts. Sand mining is done to extract minerals like Rutile, Ilmenite and Zicron which contain Titanium & Zirconium.
  • According to MMDR Act, 1957 “Minor Minerals” means building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for prescribed purposes, and any other Central Govt notified mineral.
  • Imp of sustainable sand mining: River conservation, control erosion, smooth flow, reduce pollution (Surface and Groundwater), and Maintain river equilibrium.

UNEP Report on "Sand and Sustainability"

  • Sand and gravel are the second largest natural resources extracted and traded by volume after water but among the least regulated.
  • While 85% to 90% of global sand demand is met from quarries, sand and gravel pits, the 10% to 15% extracted from rivers and sea shores is a severe concern due to the environmental and social impacts.
  • China and India head the list of critical hotspots for sand extraction impacts in rivers, lakes and on coastlines.
  • Concerns/ Impacts of sand mining
    1. Loss of revenue to State, Higher prices of Sand, absence of robust monitoring mechanism, and adulteration in the sand lead to weak buildings.
    2. River and coastal erosion. Loss of livelihood, Threat to the aquatic ecosystem, instability of river banks leading to increased flooding, and lowering of groundwater levels.
    3. Most large rivers of the World have lost 50-95% of their natural sand and gravel delivery to Ocean.
    4. Damming of rivers for hydropower or irrigation reduces the amount of sediment flow downstream.

Sand Mining Rules, 2016 by Ministry of Mines

  • Alternatives to sand = Msand (Manufactured Sand) made by crushing rocks, quarry stones of 150 microns. It is cheaper & more strength.
  • Import from Malaysia & Philippines.
  • Reduce Illegal mining & smuggling. Use GPS/ RFID for transportation.
  • Role of States
    1. Classification in sand surplus, sand sufficient & sand deficit states.
    2. The state should choose either Market Model (simple forward auction) or the Controlled Price Model.
    3. Separate sand mining policy for each state.
  • Responsibility for clearances & approvals on contractors & dept only facilitator.
  • 360° monitoring.

1st time MoEFCC (not Ministry of Mines) has released guidelines to monitor and check illegal sand mining

  • At present, there are Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines, 2016 that focus on the management of sand mining. 2020 Guidelines are complementary to it, but in conflict 2020 will prevail.
  • MMDRA, 1957 has empowered state governments to make rules to prevent illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals. Illegal mining leads to a loss of revenue to the State and many officers get killed by the Sand mafia.
  • Source to Destination Monitoring: through drones.
  • States to carry out river audits, put detailed survey reports of all mining areas in the public domain. SSMG had District Survey Reports (DSR) carried out by District and State administration but it was not comprehensive leaving a scope for illegal mining.
  • Online sales and purchase of sand and other RiverBed Materials (RBM) for transparency in the process.
  • It gives directions to states to set up dedicated task forces at district levels.
  • No riverbed mining to be allowed during monsoon.

New Sand Mining Policy of AP

  • It curbs hoarding, Black marketing and Illegal mining of sand and reduces the price of mined sand (?370 a tonne).
  • Sand stockyards would be managed by APMDC and all mining would be done by the Government (APDMC & District Collector) in a scientific manner.
  • Sand excavations in the river streams of IV, V & higher order (bigger river streams) is permitted subject to AP Mineral Concession Rules, 1966; EPA, 1986; EIA Notification of 2006 etc.
  • The irrigation department is to take up the desilication of dams, reservoirs, barrages and large lakes directly or through APDMC.
  • It will also install weighbridges at stockyards, and CCTV Cameras at sand reaches and stockyards to Monitor sand operations and vehicles.

Source: TH/ AspireIAS Sanjeevani Notes

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