Combating Environmental Degrade - Eastern Mirror
Monday, March 04, 2024

Combating Environmental Degrade

By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 31, 2023 1:00 am

It is often forgotten that the current state of ecological degradation, both the global and Indian context, iscaused by decades of unscientific and unchecked practices. More alarming is the fact that these practices, which directly harm our environment, have become the norm and hence not only continue to exist but also prosper and expand. This stands especially true for the practice of sand mining on riverbeds. In recent times, the rate of sand mining on riverbeds has seen a quantum increase, especially in the ecologically sensitive state of Uttarakhand. It is learnt that mining projects are rampant in at least 10 rivers in the state and the number is expected to expand to 20 in the coming years. It is also estimated that these mining projects fetch a profit of around INR 150-200 crore per annum.

The practice of sand mining is extremely disruptive to the ecology as it severely affects the natural flow of the river, which can have a huge repercussion on the well-being of the region. This type of mining is normally carried out in seasonal rivers or dying rivers. Most of these rivers remain dry for a large part of the year and only have substantial water flow during the monsoon period. Despite their seasonal nature, the importance of these rivers to our overarching eco system cannot be overstated. What most people refer to as seasonal rivers are, in actuality, natural drainage channels that divert rain water to bigger glacial rivers like the Ganga and Brahmaputra. A study of the geography of a state like Uttarakhand or any north-eastern State will reveal the presence of multiple long and narrow river channels which are an essential part of any mountainous ecosystem. The removal of natural materials from their original location compromises the ability of these channels to carry excess water and directly leads to disasters like floods and landslides. In this scenario, the occurrences can’t be characterised as natural disasters as they are directly caused by human activity.

Adding to the detrimental nature of sand mining is illegal practices. According to government reports, about 100,000 cases of illegal sand mining are reported every year. Thus, the amount of damage caused by sand mining has become incalculable. Meanwhile, the lack of awareness among the people about the ill-effects of sand mining, in a way, points to the failure of the government in framing policies and measures to avoid ecological disruption. Most government policies are designed to be implemented across the country without looking into the ecological aspect but that may prove costly to the ecosystem. It is important to devise region-specific plans for developmental activities.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 31, 2023 1:00:01 am
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