Illegal Sand Mining: Tackling the menace through e-way (PART:I)

With the NGT and apex court taking a strict stance on illegal sand mining in the cases of Gurpreet Singh Bagga and Deepak Kumar, the problem of illegal mining does not appears to be scaling down. Minor mineral mining today stands as one of the biggest threat for the environment. The commentary talks about illegal mining of minor minerals in-depth.  

The problem of illegal mining has caused deep social, political and economic distress in the nation today. Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, M.P. are some of the states where the illegal mining has been rampant for past few years.

In a question asked to the Minister of mines regarding illegal mining, following statistics were revealed in Parliament by him:


Table 1: Statement showing year wise state wise cases of illegal mining for major and minor minerals 

Source: Indian Environment Portal

 Legal regime regulating the Illegal Mining in India:-

Section 3(e) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 states that what are the minor minerals:

“minor minerals” means building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for prescribed purposes, and any other mineral which the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be a minor mineral;”

Rule 70 of Minor mineral concession rules, 1960 laid down that in what all cases the sand will not be treated as minor mineral:

Sand not be treated as minor mineral when used for certain purposes: – Sand shall not be treated as a minor mineral when used for any of the following purposes, namely:-

(i) purposes of refractory and manufacture of ceramic;

(ii) metallurgical purposes;

(iii) optical purposes;

(iv) purposes of stowing in coal mines;

(v) for manufacture of silvicrete cement;

(vi) for manufacture of sodium silicate;

(vii) for manufacture of pottery and glass.

EIA Notification 2006:-

Amendment to EIA Notification, 2006 proved to be major step taken on behalf of the government by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. After years of intense debate and discussion the government finally approved the amendment which brought the small scale mining projects under its ambit. The amendment made necessary to procure environmental clearance for mining of minor minerals in areas less than or equal to five hectares.  The amendment introduced proper institutional structures that will be responsible for the clearances, procedure for monitoring and enforcement of the regulations regarding the project.

The amendment introduced two categories for the project; Category A and Category B. Category A projects were to be finalized only after proper public hearing and only Union Environment Ministry will be responsible for the clearances. Category B projects needed approval from state level authorities. The institutions that were created at state level are: State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).

Years No. of cases Revenue recovered (Rs. In Lakhs)
06-07 5120 433.27
07-08 4656 469.96
08-09 3874 500.18
09-10 5472 847.67
10-11 6234 1376.71
11-12 6713 1668.35
12-13 9708 3193.98
13-14 8612 2978.35
14-15 9920 2527.35
15-16 (Till January 2016) 10016 2953.67
Total 70,325 16949.49

Table 2: Revenue recorded through illegal mining cases from 2006-07 to 2015-16.

Source: Indian Bureau of Mines

The notification also established authorities at district level: District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) and District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC). The district level communities will be responsible for clearing the proposals for clusters of small leases that will be greater than 5 hectares but lesser than 25 hectares. Also, the individual lease will not range more than 5 hectares.

Current scenario of illegal mining in India:-

Uttar Pradesh is the worst affected state in terms of illegal mining. Past few months, cases of illegal mining are bring reported from the areas of Yamuna riverbed between Noida and Faridabad, Narora near Sambhal District, Saharanpur, Jalaun, and Hamirpur.

On the other hand, in Haryana, the case of illegal mining has been recorded in the Aravalli ranges. Earlier to that the SC in the year 2014 banned all the mining activities in the Aravalli ranges. Also the CEC headed by P V Jayakrishnan has submitted in its report that there has been sharp increase in the illegal mining activities in the Aravalli ranges.

Few months back, High Court issued order regarding the illegal mining going in the Roon area near Sangrani village. The allegation was that the authorities did not take any action against the mafia’s operating the illegal mining network. It has been reported that for most of the villages in Haryana, illegal mining has become the major source of income.

The illegal mining scam of Odisha formed a huge loss for the exchequer. The Odisha illegal mining scam amounts to Rs. 59,203 crore and illegal iron and manganese ore amounting to 22.80 crore tonnes was extracted illegally from the state for almost a decade, reported Shah Commission.

E-way to curb illegal mining: Reviewing e-models of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh:-

Since minor mineral is the subject matter of the state, section 23 C was inserted under the MMDR Act, 1957 (Amendment Act of 1999), as a result of which different state government framed their own rules for preventing illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals.

  • In Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh Minerals (Prevention of illegal mining transportation and storage) Rules, 2002 govern the storage and illegal movement of the minerals.
  • Haryana has in place Haryana Minor Mineral Concession, Stocking, Transportation, of Minerals and Prevention of Illegal Mining rules, 2012 and The Haryana Regulation and Control of Crushers Act, 1991.
  • Maharashtra Minor Mineral Extraction (development and regulation) Rules 2013, Maharashtra Mineral Prevention of Illegal Mining Transportation and Storage Rules 2001 and State Mineral Policy 1999; are the main legal documents regulating the illegal mining network in Maharashtra.
  • Orissa in the year 2007 framed Orissa minerals (Prevention of theft smuggling & illegal mining and regulation of possession, storage, trading and transportation) to overcome the problem of illegal mining.

Union Environment ministry under the EIA Notification 2006 also gave the guidelines for incorporating   technological methods with the present legal framework governing the region for tackling the issue. The notification suggested the use of many new and updated technologies like GPS, use of radio-frequency sensitive tags, SMS based request operating and movement approval systems etc. But, till now the states have not incorporated these guidelines in their respective state legislation as a result of which the number of occurrences regarding illegal mining is high in each state

State 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Andhra Pradesh 13939 19913 16592 7692 2786
Haryana 3446 2022 3517 3589 4117

Table 3: Number of illegal mining cases in Andhra Pradesh and Haryana

Source: Indian Bureau of Mines

Two states; Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have placed absolutely accurate e-models in order to check the growing illegal mining cases. In case of Andhra Pradesh there was significant decrease in the registration of illegal mining cases after the deployment of the model. In Maharashtra, government made a huge collection out of these illegal mining cases by implementing their respective e-model.

Author: Rishabh Shrivastava, Founder and Editor-in-Chief (Analysis)

The author is currently interning with Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi (Industry and Environment Unit) and is working on the areas related to mining, NGT orders and judgments, energy infrastructure and laws. 

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