Sand and gravel, together known as aggregate, is the 2nd largest raw material used on earth after water. Indiscriminate sand mining in India not only threatens the environment and ecosystem but also endangers the economy. Therefore, sustainable sand mining (SSM) is recommended. Sustainable sand mining uses sound scientific assessment, adopts best practices, construction technology, and sustainable use of the resources.
Importance of sustainable sand mining:
Prevent biodiversity loss: It would minimize ecological impacts on the river /ocean ecosystems and economic impacts on sectors such as fisheries and tourism.
- Maintain water supply: It would ensure recharge of water table and reduction in ground water pollution.
- Ensure replenishment of resource: At present, sand extraction rate is exceeding natural replenishment rates. Sustainable sand mining would minimize this imbalance.
- Prevent damage to infrastructure: Damage to bridges, river embankments and coastal infrastructures would be prevented.
- Better planning: It would reduce unnecessary construction and make more efficient use of aggregates, usage of proper scientific methodology for mining, embrace alternative design and construction methods etc.
- Prevent health hazards: Sustainable sand mining would also minimize air quality degradation and dust- fog arising out of the unscientific and unregulated sand mining and its transportation.