The sand mafia is emboldened by political support throughout the country, as the suspension of IAS Durga Nagpal and murder of activist Pale Ram Chauhan demonstrates in UP. Awaaz Foundation's publication 'The Link between politicians sand mining in and around Mumbai' has traced similar links in Maharashtra. Many attacks have been perpetrated by the sand mafia and activists and Government officers have been threatened at gunpoint, attacked and killed all over the country. An upright officer like Durga Shakti Nagpal who risks her life to uphold the law and cracks down against illegality should be rewarded, not be suspended The links between Pale Ram's murder, Durga Nagpal's transfer, sand mining and politicians should be investigated by the CBI.
Awaaz Foundation, an NGO working on illegal sand mining for over a decade, would like to register it’s strongest protest against the murder of Pale Ram Chauhan, allegedly by the sand mafia and the transfer of IAS officer Ms. Durga Shakti Nagpal for daring to crack down on illegal sand mining in Uttar Pradesh.
Escalating attacks and murders of activists, Government officers and journalists are highlighting the hold of the illegal sand mining trade and the mafias consolidating around it in India. We appeal to you to order a CBI enquiry to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of Durga Nagpal’s transfer and the alleged involvement of the sand mafia immediately thereafter in murdering Pale Ram Chauhan. We appeal to you to ensure support to those who work selflessly to protect our natural environment, specially sand, an irreplaceable natural resource under serious threat.
Sand mining is a serious environmental disaster, threatening coastal and riverine ecology; it was brought to national attention when a series of assaults on activists (including myself), journalists and Government officers were perpetrated by politically controlled sand mafias. I enclose a booklet ‘The links between politicians and sand mining in and around Mumbai’ published by Awaaz Foundation in 2012. This booklet was also presented at the Convention of Biodiversity, Conference of Parties, where the issue of coastal sand mining was discussed for the first time in an International Convention through an NGO side event.
The international threat to biodiversity, water security and land security from sand mining is now an Internationally recognized issue, highlighted after the film ‘Sand Wars’, documenting sand mining all over the world, was released in Paris in May 2013. India is Custodian of the International Convention on Biodiversity until October 2014. Awaaz Foundation has requested, in it’s letter dated 22nd July 2013 addressed to Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests, that sand mining should find a place in the Agenda of the next Convention on Bio Diversity, 12th Conference of Parties in 2014 and that India should lead the way by cracking down against illegal sand mining (copy of letter enclosed).
We condemn the murder of Pale Ram Chauhan, allegedly by the sand mafia and request a CBI enquiry into the alleged links between the murder, sand mining, and politicians. We reiterate our solidarity with Ms Durga Shakti Nagpal and request that she be re instated and provided adequate support to be able to continue her crackdown against the sand mafia in her region. We request that sand mafias operating in the area should be tackled at State Government and National Government level, so that, rather than obstructing her crackdown, it may be assured success. We also request that other IAS officers tackling sand mafias in other States of India, are provided adequate support so that crackdowns on illegal sand mining are carried out all through the country in an effective manner.
Awaaz Foundation and MITRA (Movement against Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists)
74, New Silver Home,
New Kantwadi Road,
Bandra West, Mumbai 400 050.
Tel” 982 15 20805
1. Letter to Environment Minister Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan
2. ‘The Link Between politicians and sand mining in and around Mumbai’
3. Times of India ‘IAS Durga Shakti who took in sand mafia suspended’.
4. Hindustan Times ‘ Activist who took on sand mafia shot dead in Noida”.