Illegal Sand Mining in the Chakki riverbed, Himachal Pradesh, India

Illegal sand mining, ecological degradation, and the mining mafia in Himachal Pradesh.


Sand mining conflicts are very visible in India. Over the past few years, the Chakki riverbed in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has been suffering from illegal sand mining operations. Massive quantities of sand are mined from the Chakki riverbed, and transported to other regions of the country for real estate development and other construction related activities. Sand mining has serious implications for the sensitive local ecology of the Himalayan state which has large sections of its population dependent upon access to natural water and agriculture. Impacts of this illegal sand mining includes massive economic losses to the state exchequer. Sand mining has also resulted in negative impacts on the local environment, pedestrian paths, pastoral lands, and water supply schemes. The sand mining operations pose a dire threat to the local ecology, and likely to have negative consequences on hundreds of acres of fertile agricultural land surrounding the riverbed. According to available figures, close to 26000 acres of land in the neighboring villages have been rendered barren owing to sand mining in the region (Atri, Divya Himachal, 2014).

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Basic Data
NameIllegal Sand Mining in the Chakki riverbed, Himachal Pradesh, India
ProvinceHimachal Pradesh
SiteSolan district
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Specific CommoditiesWater
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsLarge scale illegal sand mining. According to press reports [1] (R. Dhaliwal, in The Tribune, 21 June 2016) :"some of the quarries here have been auctioned by the state government. However, the contractors who had won the bids claim that raw material was not being procured by stone crushers from them. The say: "we have won the bids. However, we are running into losses as crushers are purchasing material not from us but from illegal sources." Stone crusher owners have formed cartels which in turn engage in illegal digging of sand and gravel. In this way, instead of taking material from legal contractors, they take it directly from their own people indulging in under-cutting of prices. The Mirthal belt, which has nearly 70 crushers, is a major contributor of sand and gravel to the other parts of the country and Chakki river which flows through this belt, remains a lucrative business for criminals,” disclosed an official."
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date26/12/2013
Relevant government actorsLocal MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly)

Local police officials
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBharatiya Kisan Sangh
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts, Deaths
OtherDisturbance of daily activities such as sleep of local residents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Despite of the National Green Tribunal ban, which could have potentially resulted successful of the environmental justice movement, illegal mining continues in the region.
Sources and Materials

Jitesh. 2013 (8th August). NGT banned sand mining across India without license and environmental approval. Jagran Josh. (Last accessed: 1st February, 2017).
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Divya Himachal. 2014 (6th December). Mining mafia targets border districts of Himachal. Divya Himachal. (Last accessed: 1st February, 2017).
[click to view]

Mahajan, R. 2014 (21st September). Check illegal mining on Chakki riverbed: Villagers. The Tribune. (Last accessed: 1st February, 2017).
[click to view]

News18. 2014 (15th June). Himachal Pradesh: Beas tragedy exposed illegal sand mining. News18. (Last accessed: 1st February, 2017).
[click to view]

The Tribune. 2013 (26th December). Protest against illegal mining in Chakki. The Tribune. (Last accessed: 1st February, 2017).
[click to view]

[1] Dhaliwal, R. 2016 (21st June). Pathankot admn seeks report on ‘illegal mining’ at Chakki riverbed. The Tribune. (Last accessed: 1st February, 2017).
[click to view]

On the Beas river tragedy. Inside India's Deadly Sand Mafia.

By Tom Lasseter and Rakteem Katakey 2014-12-17
[click to view]

Other Documents

Sand mining along the Chakki riverbed
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Illegal sand mining in Chakki
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorArpita Bisht, TERI University, [email protected]
Last update02/02/2017