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At least 193 died due to 'illegal, excessive' river sand mining since Jan 2019: SANDRP

Parents of kids who died in mining pits in Somb river, Yamuna Nagar, July 2019 
By Our Representative
A recent compilation has revealed that at least 193 people have been killed due to illegal sand mining operations across across India since January 2019. Compiled in a detailed report by Bhim Singh Rawat of the civil rights organization South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), it says that the highest number of people, 95 were killed in North India (49%) followed by 42 in West and Central India, 41 in East India and 15 in South India.
According to Rawat, “Illegal, excessive sand mining activities have been impacting river ecosystem and riparian communities adversely. Scores of villagers, young kids, reporters, activists and government officials are being attacked and killed every year for objecting to or due to unlawful and unsustainable excavation of River sand. The brazen mining is also leading to fatal road accidents which is again resulting in grievous injuries or even deaths.”
He adds, “The situation has only deteriorated despite several protests by locals and numbers of court orders reprimanding the central and the state governments. Political parties, politicians are directly or indirectly linked to many of these activities.”
According to the report, drowning, mine collapse, road accidents were the biggest killers, pointing out, of the total deaths 95 were caused by drowning in deep sand mining pits followed by 27 due to collapse of sand mounds and caving in of sand mines. The road accidents involving sand mining vehicles resulted in death of 26 people including 18 in North India only.
Rawat says, 148 deaths (which is about 76 percent) were found to be the result of excessive and unscientific riverbed mining and transportation of sand. Out of 26 deaths in road accidents 18 (about 69 percent) took place in just three North Indian states, Uttar Pradesh (12), Haryana (three) and Uttarakhand (three).
These included 23 farmers, five reporters and activists, and 11 government officials, including forest guards, policemen, revenue officials, mining personnel and district officials were killed by illegal miners, the report says.
Death toll in India due to Illegal Sand Mining in 2019-20
The report continues, infighting between rival groups led to the death of three illegal miners (one in UP, two in Madhya Pradesh) while three others (one in UP, two in Rajasthan) were killed in police encounter. Forty five deaths (about 23%), including those involved illegal mining, was the outcome of direct assault on villagers, government officials, activists and reporters.
The report further says, out of 95 drowning deaths in sand mining pits, 76 (80 percent) were either minor kids or young children or teenagers who entered in river to have a bath unaware of deep pits in the riverbed.
Sadly, it adds, 11 children of Haryana and 32 children in UP died after falling in deep sand pits in this period. Similarly, in Bihar, sand mining pits killed 11 in Sone river alone. The sand pits in Swan river in Punjab saw the death of eight villagers since 2013 and three in Banganga river in Uttarakhand.
As for reporters and activists, Rawat says, one reporter in UP, two activists in Odisha, one in Bihar and one in Tamil Nadu were killed for opposing and exposing illegal sand mining. Besides this, the report adds, there were brutal attacks on one reporter each in Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh and one Right to Information (RTI) activist in Kerala.

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