As contractors across the state switch to the more economical and ecological m-sand to meet their needs, there is hardly any demand for natural sand, say Mines and Geology dept officials. Illegal sand mining, once termed the biggest mining scam after illegal iron ore mining scam, has come down considerably in the state in the last couple of years. Amidst reports that shortage of sand has affected the developmental works and large-scale construction activities across the state, facts and figures released by the Mines and Geology department has revealed that there is hardly any demand for natural sand and people have been increasingly using m-sand for construction.
With several riverbeds and tanks left high and dry by illegal mining by the sand mafia, affecting the flow of rivers and underground water table, the state government was forced to come out with a policy to restrict the illegal mining back in 2011. A few years since then, public awareness and enforcement of the law seems to have fizzled out the demand for natural or river sand and timely introduction of m-sand has also led to a considerable drop in illegal sand mining across Karnataka. Strict enforcement of the policy has resulted in almost 70 to 80 per cent drop in the demand for natural sand, and number of illegal sand mining cases too have plummeted due to the government’s intervention by forming sand committees at every districts headed by the deputy commissioner.
According to Vinay Kulkarni, minister for mines and geology, illegal mining incidents reached an all-time high during 2014-15, but have drastically come down. “In 2014-15 we had booked as many as 12,431 illegal mining cases and this year (2016-17) till September we have booked only 2,673 cases across the state. Similarly, the Rs 17.12 cr penalty collection two-years ago has also fallen to just Rs 3.33 crore. The fall in demand for natural sand is attributed to growing popularity of m-sand and increased awareness among the citizens,” Kulkarni said. Interestingly, the government has been cracking down on both illegal transportation and mining of sand across the state. “While the transportation has become almost impossible, there have been incidents of mining with local transportation network. We are tracking such mining activities with well-established intelligence network in every district and initiating strict action against the offenders,” a senior official revealed.
Kulkarni said that initial apprehension about the quality and use of m-sand among public has almost evaporated due to intervention of expert engineers and researchers. “Government has been popularising m-sand and in fact we have been using m-sand in all our projects. This apart, cost of the sand also plays a major role as general public could not afford such huge cost and m-sand has all the properties of natural sand,” Kulkarni said.
Credits Bangalore Mirror