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UN to study ramifications of sand mining

IANS  |  Mumbai 

Sand mining, a major environmental concern, will soon get international attention after it was included in the list of the new and emerging issues by the United Nations, an activist said here Wednesday.

"Following a joint representation by Mumbai's Awaaz Foundation and Bombay Natural History Society, sand mining has been listed by the Secretariat of the Convention of Biodiversity for appraisal by their technical committee, SBSTTA, to identify new and emerging issues pertaining to its conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, for inclusion in the CBD," Awaaz Foundation chief Sumaira Abdulali told IANS.

Based in Montreal, Canada, the CBD and its technical committee, Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) function under the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP), she added.

Awaaz Foundation has been working on raising awareness about illegal sand mining in Maharashtra for over a decade.

"Sand mining has huge adverse effects on natural and human welfare. It affects water security, causes land erosion and affects every form of biodiversity, which includes sand, including mangroves, turtles and other marine and terrestrial life, besides destroying fishing grounds," Sumaira said.

Sand has often been considered as an inexhaustible, grossly undervalued and a cheap material essential for construction so it has very little regulation in India.

Though huge quantities of sand are used globally, awareness at the public, state, national and international levels remains low.

In India, where it is termed as a 'minor' mineral, its extraction and lucrative trade is governed at the state level.

With politicians involvement in the sand mining businesses, mafias are formed which threaten, attack and even kill activists and government officials trying to regulate them.

Sumaira herself was at end of two serious attacks by the sand mafia during site visits. She then followed it up with public interest litigations, challenging sand mining and the might of the sand mafias.

Sand mining entered an international forum for first time last year when it was taken up as a side event at the CBD Conference, organised jointly by Awaaz Foundation and BNHS.

First Published: Wed, October 09 2013. 19:58 IST