Nothing sounds so dull — even for most environmentalists — as sand mining. But in India, reports of sand mafias cashing in on the country’s construction boom have lately been making headlines. Last month, the issue went viral — a 17-year-old girl named Kavya in a fishing village in the state of Kerala posted a video on a mobile phone app about how excavators and dredgers had invaded her coastal community. “The land beneath our feet is sinking away,” she said. It became a sensation across the country. Bollywood actors backed her, and now the country’s National Green Tribunal, a government body aimed at settling environmental disputes, is to consider the case.
The Hidden Environmental Toll of Mining the World’s Sand
By far the largest mining endeavor globally is digging up sand, mainly for the concrete that goes into buildings. But this little-noticed and largely unregulated activity has serious costs — damaging rivers, wreaking havoc on coastal ecosystems, and even wiping away entire islands.