The Hidden War on Sand

Sand. To some, it’s the annoying material that gets in your shoe and stays there for weeks after going to a beach. For others, it’s something that they’ll give their lives for.

According to the United Nations Environment Program, 47-59 billion tons of sand and gravel are extracted from beaches every year. The UNEP also say that sand is being removed faster than they can be replaced. The exact amount of sand being mined is hard to pin down because some nations don’t record how much sand they mine and some sand is being illegally mined. Desert sand can’t be used for construction; it’s shaped more by winds than water. Sand found primarily in areas near coasts is used. Construction requires sand for concrete and glass. As cities get taller, more concrete is required. However, sand is being mined faster than it can be replaced. So what happens? Companies and people resort to going past the laws on what can be mined.

Bannerghatta National Park in Southern India has experienced illegal sand mining. The conservators of the park have been seizing trucks carrying sand that has been mined illegally. Sunil Panwar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, talked about catching illegal sand miners: “Last weekend we seized 17 lorries. Each lorry is fined Rs 25,000.
The penalty collected has been deposited in the State treasury. We also hold the lorries in our office for two days in order to put indirect pressure on the companies and transporters.” This problem has spawned “sand mafias”, an organized criminal group to steal sand. People have been killed trying to stop illegal mining. One was Paleram Chauhan, who was shot dead when he tried to save his village
from the mining.

This problem of sand mining is not only exclusive to India. In Indonesia, protesters have been killed while they were protesting the illegal mining. In Kenya, sand mining has destroyed the riverbeds. It’s not surprising why people want to mine sand; it’s a 70 billion dollar industry. As the hunt for sand continues, ecosystems and villages will be torn apart looking for its

By Humaam Said

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