Coastal sand mining, whether legal or illegal, poses one of the biggest threats to our environment. Analyse the impact of sand mining along the Indian coasts, citing specific examples.

Sand mining whether legal or illegal is causing serious repercussions on the coastal ecosystem. In a case, the National Green Tribunal imposed a fine of Rs 100 cr on the government of Andhra Pradesh for inaction to prevent illegal sand mining in the state.

Impact of Sand Mining on Indian Coasts

  • Coastal sand mining affects the coastal terrain and leads to coastal erosion. Ex: In Karnataka, rampant sand mining is leading to coastal erosion. The government is now forced to spend crores of rupees to form a barrier against coastal erosion.
  • Depletion of sand from coastal areas results in deepening of rivers and estuaries, and the enlargement of river mouths and coastal inlets.
  • Coastal sand Mining may also lead to saline-water intrusion from the nearby sea and the effect of mining is compounded by the effect of sea-level rise.
  • Coastal Mining disturbs the wildlife living in the beach ecosystem. For example, turtles such as the Olive ridley sea turtle arrive at beaches to dig nests in the sand and lay their eggs. After laying their eggs, the turtles cover them with sand to protect the nests from predators. When the hatchlings emerge, they move across the beach and enter the sea. However, when sand mining occurs in turtle nesting habitats, it leads to the loss of nesting sites.
  • Coastal Sand mining may create turbidity in the water. The turbidity can create a barrier that prevents sunlight from entering the water, which is harmful to corals that need sunlight. Fish may also die-off due to a lack of food and oxygen in the turbid waters. Thus, the entire aquatic system may fail due to sand mining.
  • Beaches, dunes, and sandbanks act as barriers to flooding. The sand mining removes such barriers. As a result, areas near the sea or river become more prone to flooding.

It is necessary that the state governments must ensure mining volumes does not exceed the predetermined sustainable mining quantity proposed. Strict measures must be put in place to ensure that the mining volumes don’t exceed that.

Published: October 22, 2019 | Modified:December 1, 2019

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