Thursday, November 15, 2012

#51. Chambal Gharial Sanctuary and Sand Mining

I am a keen bird watcher, and try to visit Chambal river every year (see my blog on Chambal Cruise).  Chambal has good sand, although in Gwalior the best sand comes from the river Sindh, a tributary of Chambal (or Yamuna) which has a confluence with it at Pachnada. Chambal has a confluence with Yamuna at Bhare and then at about 10 km ahead in Pachnada Yamuna meets Sindh, the latter before that  has confluence with Kuari and Pahuj rivers a short distance away.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Coming back to sand, there is Chambal Gharial Sanctuary which is in about  435 km length of the Chambal in M.P. The Sanctuary has about 18 km upstream, and  further 142 km. downstream in Rajasthan . There are several stretches in 435 km of M.P. where Rajasthan and U.P. are on the other bank.  Fishing and mining are restricted in the entire length. After the sad incident where a young police officer was run over by a tractor trolley laden with sand, the Forest, Revenue and the Police depts. have become strict on the mining activity of sand mafia. Sand is an essential ingredient in building construction, and the price of sand has shot up to about Rs. 4000 per trolley (100 cft) which is about twice of what it was about a couple of years back. Sand mining is restricted in the Sanctuary as it will destroy the eggs of gharial and turtles which normally lay their eggs in the sand, and cover it up . The intentions are holy, and every year significant number of gharial and turtle eggs are taken out by the Sanctuary officials,  hatched in the incubators, reared for a few months and released in the water.
However, I am told that the gharial and the turtle lay their eggs in certain specified stretches of  the river which are about 16-17, and of which 6-7 are major. Nadigaon, Barotha, Dangbasai, Tighri-Rithora, Pureni, Daljitpura, Barenda, Kaner, Mahua, Bijora, Chilonga and Gyanpura are some of the nesting sites, from what  I could gather.  So restricting mining in a  limited area which I don’t think will be more than 15-20 km will serve the purpose of aquatic reptile conservation and the balance stretch can be thrown open for sand mining. It is reasonable to presume that such action would substantially reduce the price of sand prevailing in Gwalior-Chambal divisions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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