MUMBAI: A ban on sand mining across the country by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and a Supreme Court order notwithstanding, the illegal activity remains rampant.

The proof came on September 19, when two tehsildars, one from Thane district and the other from the city, intercepted 75 trucks loaded with sand at the Dahisar check naka while on their way to the city.

The drivers did not have a valid royalty receipt authorizing them to carry sand from a site, which the Thane collector said was an indication that the sand was being illegally mined and transported.

Several calls were made to the police station by the revenue officials, but the police were busy because of the Ganpati visarjan and arrived only six hours later. By then, all the trucks had slipped away.

“When the revenue officials checked the vehicles, the drivers fled,” inspector Madhukar Pawar said. “Later they took their trucks too.”

The police assistance had been sought some time after 8 pm. The police said they could send their officers only by 3 am.

The Dahisar police station is now trying to trace 39 of the trucks with the vehicle numbers given by the revenue officers. The Kashimira police station at Mira-Bhayander in Thane district registered cases against only six of the 36 trucks from its jurisdiction.

The trucks were estimated to be carrying 22,000 kg of sand for building sites in the city.

“The sand was coming from Vasai taluka and because of absence of any valid receipt it can be termed illegal,” Thane collector P Velarasu said.

The law allows only manual mining in some creek parts in Thane. Vehicles carrying the sand are issued a royalty receipt to transport it.

(Inputs by Sandhya Nair)

Sand mining rules

* A Supreme Court order in February 2012 bans removal of sand from riverbeds in the country without a clearance from the union environment ministry

* In 2013 August, the National Green Tribunal reiterated the SC order banning mining of sand without permission

* Around September (the month when the 75-odd trucks were seized), manual mining of sand was allowed only in some parts of the creeks. The trucks carrying sand were given a royalty receipt to transport it

* From October 1, all kinds of mining activity in the state are banned till the Maharashtra Maritime Board submits a stock report on the requirements and areas which can be utilized. The report will go through various levels of checks, including a permission from the environment ministry, before authorized mining can start again


If a ban on sand mining had been implemented in all strictness, one would have sensed a slowdown in construction activity in the city. Since construction is still booming, it is obvious that sand is being legally mined … Illegal mining continues to happen during the night or on weekends, when there is lesser watch

– Debi Goenka, Conservation Action Trust

The politician-builder-mafia nexus has ensured that there is no shortage of sand for private builders. CCTV cameras must be positioned at all toll nakas at an angle which shows the contents of the truck as they pass through along with the registration number of the trucks. All goods vehicles must pass though designated lanes of toll nakas

– Stalin D, Vanashakti

If so much sand is being transported on one occasion, how many trucks with illegal sand would be moving around in the city? There has been no strictness shown to clamp down on illegal sand mining

– Harish Pandey, activist from Dahisar