Distressing Endangered Gharials, Illegal Sand Mining Continues In Chambal Sanctuary
Summers are almost here, and people who enjoy exploring new places have already started writing down and scrapping off various tourists spots in the country. While Goa remains favourite among the millennials, Chambal sanctuary usually finds itself in the “scrapped off” lists.
And mind you, it is not because people are not interested in witnessing the wildlife, but they fear that their trip will come to waste as they won’t be able to see ‘gharials’ – the fish-eating crocodile in the region. Gharials are critically endangered and unique crocodilian species of extraordinary conservation value. Moreover, it is the rarest large animal on the Indian subcontinent. And why are they not showing up more often? Yes, they are endangered, but the decimation of their natural habitat in the process of illegal sand mining on the banks of Chambal river is the primary source of their distress. Apart from Gharials, other wildlife in the region are turtles, crocodiles, and several species of birds such as Flamingos.
Apex Court banned illegal mining 13 years back
Illegal sand minining in the area is not new perhaps. The illegal sand mining in the area dates back to 2003. However, understanding the threat caused by illegal sand mining to the sensitive gharials and other flora and fauna in the region, the Supreme Court banned illegal sand mining. However, it has been almost 13 years after the ban, illegal mining continues to be more rampant in the Gwalior-Chambal area. Over the years, cases of cops failing to bar these activities have surfaced. People operating these illegal mining are called “Sand Mafia”, and over years, they have feared less to the authority. The mafias have not resisted themselves from attacking the forest officials and cops. Many have lost lives in this process. In 2012, an IPS officer was killed while several officials were assaulted.
Mining halt for elections
One tourist who has recently been to the area told The Logical Indian that during his boat ride on the Chambal river, the extent at which the illegal mining was taking place on the river banks appalling. He said, “A large number of tractors along with excavators were lined up on the bank”. Concerned about the breeding season of the Gharials, he further said, “Gharials have low rates of natural breeding, and damage to their eggs due to mining will further lower their breading rate.”
To confirm the ongoing illegal mining, The Logical Indian contacted forest officials of the area. One of the officials under anonymity confirmed that illegal mining has been continuing on both the sides, i.e. Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh sides of the river. However, he said illegal mining activities on both sides have come to a halt due to the upcoming elections.
Well, it is very likely that the mining will restore after the elections are done.