Photo for representation: iStock
Photo for representation: iStock

Sand mining ban extended till October 15 in Bihar

Three-month ban was to lift on October 1; changing rainfall trends in monsoon 2023 behind extension

Changing rainfall trends in monsoon 2023 have impacted sand mining in Bihar. For the first time, the ban on sand mining will be extended beyond October 1, according to an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Sand mining will, instead, begin on October 15 this year, said officials of the state mines and geology department on September 21, 2023.

An NGT order had banned the extraction of sand for three months in Bihar — from July 1 to September 30. Mining was expected to resume on October 1.

However, moderate to heavy monsoon rains are likely in early October due to changing monsoon trends, according to the India Meteorological Department’s Patna centre.

Bihar witnessed a rainfall deficit of 26 percent less than the average this year. The monsoon was poor in June and July with a 48 per cent deficit in rains, followed by normal rains in August. The monsoon activity then weakened again in September.

Amid reports of rampant illegal sand mining in riverbeds in Bihar, state mines and geology department officials have started preparations to implement the fresh orders by the NGT.

“The government is serious about checking and controlling illegal sand mining and has decided to launch a special operation or crackdown against sand mafias. New checkposts and outposts are being set up in Arwal, Patna, Aurangabad, Saran, Siwan, Bhojpur, Sheohar and Katihar,” said an official.

All those who had been given settlements of lease for authorised ghats on different rivers for sand mining have been directed by the department  to register vehicles for carrying sand. They must also install  video surveillance cameras on ghats and machines to measure sand volume.

These measures have been put in place to increase the revenue of the state and to provide sand at the right price to people .

In recent days, police have arrested dozens of people engaged in illegal sand mining and seized medium and big boats for illegal sand mining in the Son river in Bhojpur district.

However, hours after the operation, illegal sand mining resumed in the area. Hundreds of mechanised boats were seen illegally extracting sand from the riverbeds. Illegal sand mining is carried out by powerful sand mafia operating in several districts, including Patna, Saran and Bhojpur.

The members of the mafia are very well-armed and often outnumber the police teams, leading to inaction, the officer said.

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