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Monday, November 14, 2011

Ministry allows traditional sand mining in coastal areas

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The government has now permitted traditional coastal communities to remove sand bars in rivers and estuaries by manual methods. The sand mining in coastal areas was earlier banned by the government in view of protection of the coastal and marine environment and the protection of aquatic flora and fauna against extinction.
Builders, as per reports, have been demanding opening of sand mining in coastal areas in order to reduce their costs, but it has been firmly opposed by environmentalists. The proposal came from the side of government of Karnataka and the Ministry of Environment and Forest has at last decided to allow sand mining in all 11 coastal states and Union Territories under certain conditions through traditional ways. Though quantity, area and time restrictions have been made and emphasized while allowing traditional sand mining and provisions of monitoring of track changes through satellite images and GPS has also been made, even a lay man can understand the problems that may arise in future.

The word traditional mining is expected to open doors towards the stage for non-traditional powers to perform the act in traditional dresses. Water, if once allowed leaking; it makes its own broad ways for easy flow. However, provisions of organising committees of fishing communities, scientific expert etc. under the district collector for issuing permit has been made by the government and everything is to depend now on the efficiency and performance of the committee.
The traditional sand mining, as well as mechanised and large scale sand mining  have been damaging the coastal environment since long, however, large scale mechanized mining has done considerable damage to environments. Now it may be a hard task to control mechanized miners against mining in the name of traditional. A district collector, if willing to protect the environment can alone do a considerable job, but in case he has a little favour towards builders or professional sand miners, it is not sure that the committee of poor fishing community members and the humble science expert can develop sufficient strength to check him. Secondly, it is of less hope that a district collector may wait for the committee members to come and advice him. Yes, it can traditionally be accepted that the committee members can be made to sign the decision already taken by the officer either in the good of environment or not. A single sentence printed in the report of the Hindu dated 11th November is sufficient to point towards the future - “The government has opened a hole in the ban against sand mining in coastal areas”.

Image : Coastal Care

Key Words : coastal area, sand mining, fishing community, traditional sand mining

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