Sand is a key component of inland and coastal eco-systems. Indiscriminate mining of sand degrades rivers beds, makes rivers change course and degrades the fishery base. Sand helps maintain groundwater tables and keeps saline water from intruding into freshwater sources in coastal areas. Beach sand is our natural defence against rising sea-levels.
However, sand is also the principal component of concrete, the critical construction material. In developing countries like India, infrastructure development is in full swing and the construction sector seeks much more sand than can be mined while sticking to environmental regulations. So private companies (big and small) mine sand from beaches/river beds illegally and to dangerous levels, in cahoots with corrupt politicians and government officials. (Recent cases show that taking on this nexus can have dangerous consequences, as some activists and honest officials have found out).
In this interview, Kiran Pereira from King’s College (London), recounts her experiences researching sand mining along the Konkan coast in Western India (Mahad, Toradi and Bankot, in Raigad and Ratnagiri districts). The region is one of the 10 ‘hottest’ biodiversity hotspots in the world.
Kiran had to face threats of assault, intimidation and an air of secrecy, with few people willing to talk about illegal mining happening in broad daylight. She concludes that what helps this thrive is the general perception and scientific categorization of sand as an abundant, low-value resource despite its ecological value.
More info: http://rhetoric2reality.wordpress.com/
Produced by: TheWaterChannel
Region: India, South Asia