New Delhi: On Friday, a Dailt farmer was allegedly stabbed for opposing illegal mining near Vadyala village in Midgul Mandal of Mahabubnagar district in Telangana.
Victims of the sand mafia are reportedly increasing in the southern state. Raising concern over the impact of illegal sand mining on agriculture, farmers and locals in the district have held several protests in the last few years.
On Friday, Dalit farmer Gaddala Madhu was allegedly stabbed several times by the accused Beerla Ramesh when the former tried to stop the purported sand mining near his village. Severely injured, Madhu is undergoing treatment in the district hospital. This is not the first time that a farmer was attacked in this regard.
In July last year, farmer Gurramkadi Narsimulu was killed at Thirumalpur of Rajapur mandal in Mahabubnagar district. Reportedly, illegal miners allegedly ran over a tipper on the farmer when he tried to stop the mining there. Raged over his death, several hundreds of farmers in the region staged protests prompting the district collector to take action against 12 revenue and mining department officials for not acting against illegal mining.
“Sand mining from the Dundubhi River must be immediately stopped in the district as the farmers are worried over the reduction in groundwater levels due to excessive mining. On the other side, atrocities of the sand mafia have been on the rise. If sand mining is not stopped, the district might become another Somalia,” said A Ramulu, CPI(M) district secretary.
According to South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), in 2019, at least three people died in Telangana due to illegal sand mining related incidents on Godavari and Krishna riverbeds in the state.
Rampant Illegal Sand Mining in Telangana
According to multiple reports, illegal sand mining incidents are spread across several districts -- Ranga Reddy, Vikarabad, Mahabubnagar, Asifabad, Mulugu, Nalgonda and Nizamabad. Farmers allege that a nexus between local politicians and officials is a common feature of the illegal sand mafia in the state.
The illegal mining continued even as the state was under lockdown for several months. Last June, the Hindu reported that on the pretext of transporting sand for Kaleshwaram project, the sand mafia illegally moved sand to real estate projects in Hyderabad and Karimnagar from catchment areas of Moyathummeda rivulet in Bejjanki mandal of Karimnagar district.
Earlier this month, Uttam Kumar Reddy of Telangana Congress had alleged that Thungathurthy MLA Gyadari Kishore Kumar, a leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), was involved in illegal sand mining.
Need for Efficient Sand Mining Policy
Environmentalists and activists have been demanding an efficient sand mining policy in the state. In September 2019, an inspection report by central and state pollution control boards on de-siltation, which was conducted by the state government in sand reaches along the Godavari River, found “the lack of scientific validity and ecological sustainability in the state’s approach towards sand mining.”
As per the sand mining policy in the state, the feasible areas for sand mining were allotted to the Telangana State Mineral Development Corporation Limited (TSMDC) for excavation, regulation and supply of sand. TSMDC allots contracts for sand mining through a competitive bidding process.
In 2018-19, the revenue from sand mining stood at Rs 886.42 crore, as per TSMDC. According to a government estimate reported by Telangana Today in June 2019, “sand consumption in the State is about 2.56 crore metric tonnes per annum with the TSMDC supplying around 1.76 crore metric tonnes. The remaining sand requirements are met through M-sand supply or from the neighbouring States.”