Virendra Singh Rawat / Lucknow

The Uttar Pradesh government has announced to promote the use of artificial sand as a viable alternative to river sand in building and real estate projects.

The new policy by the Yogi Adityanath government 2.0 is aimed at overcoming the seasonal shortage of river sand and ‘morang’, apart from curbing illegal sand mining from the state river beds.

The artificial sand is known as M-sand (manufactured sand), which is produced from crushing stones into regular sand and also angular sized particles to be used as basic construction material.

M-sand is considered, by some experts, imperative to arrest unbridled exploitation of river beds for sand. According to an earlier report, rapid urbanisation and global population proliferation have spurred the demand for sand and gravel; with between 32 and 50 billion tonnes extracted globally each year.

According to a senior UP government official, the state geology and mining department will issue the necessary mandates soon to encourage M-sand so that the sand demand and supply matrix could be balanced, while illegal sand trade was controlled.

The M-sand proposal has been floated by the department as part of its 100 days, two years and 5 years action plans to ensure the seamless availability of minerals at affordable prices in UP, and also promoting legal mining.

“Before 2017, the number of sand and ‘morang’ mining leases was negligible. In line with the court order, a transparent e-tendering and e-auction lease allotment policy was later formulated by the state government,” he informed.

From 2017 to 2022, the total number of mining leases executed for sand and ‘morang’ has reached 579.

To usher in transparency, the government has developed a unique ‘UP Mine Mitra’ platform incorporating the entire process from District Survey Report (DSR) to Mining Lease Deed. An Integrated Mining Surveillance System was also implemented to curb illegal mining.

In the first phase, the department has proposed to reduce the risk in the mining business; reducing the mining lease period from 5 years to 2 years; and providing time to deposit full installment by the month end instead of online advance monthly installment in mining leases.

In two years, the department will interlink the environment department interface with its portal for expediting the mining lease process. Besides, new mining areas will be identified by mineral mapping of major rivers in Bundelkhand and Purvanchal regions.

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By 2027, the government is targetting to complete mineral mapping in all the districts, and double the number of mining areas for minor minerals.

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