On 18th July, the Global initiative Against Organised Crime published a report saying that India has seen a tripling of demand for sand from 2000 to 2017, creating a market worth 150 billion rupees, or just over $2 billion. The country has the third-largest construction industry in the world, following those of China and the US, accounting for 9% of its economy and employing more than 35 million people. Given the dizzying rate of India’s construction boom, guesstimates indicate a massive shortage of legally mined sand. The paper looks at patterns of sand mining in India and the impact that it may have on governance, security, the environment and the growth of entrenched criminal networks. Its conclusions suggest that civil administration is retreating before a mafia-like nexus of political, business and bureaucratic interests, which connive to flout judicial orders.
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