Appeared on the Daily News Friday March 18 2005
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
Draft National Policy on Sand as a Resource for the Construction Industry.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has prepared the following draft National Policy on Sand as a Resource for the Construction Industry for Sri Lanka in consultation with relevant Government Officers, Academics, Environmental Experts, NGOs, the private sector and provincial level Authorities.
Prior to finalization of the policy, the Ministry would like to obtain comments, observations and suggestions from the general public and all those interested, so that the draft policy could be improved further.
Please submit your comments and observations to Director` Policy Planning, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, "Sampathpaya", 82, Rajamalwatte Road, Battaramulla within a period of 30 days from the date of the publication of this notice.
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
"Sampathpaya", Rajamalwatte Road, Battaramulla.
Tel: 2861726 Fax : 2877292
DRAFT 1: 28/10/04
National Policy on Sand as a Resource for the Construction Industry
1.1 Sand is a mineral as defined in the Mines and Minerals Act No. 33 of (1992), and is the property of the state. The estimated annual national demand for sand for the construction industry is approximately 7 million cubic metres. Almost all of this is manually or mechanically harvested from river beds, carved from river sides, or mined from sand deposits on previous riverbeds. Unrestricted harvesting of sand is resulting in heavy rates of soil erosion, land degradation, increased river-water turbidity, lowered water tables and salinity intrusion in the lower reaches of rivers. Mechanised sand mining has caused irreparable damage to the ecology of the affected areas.
1.2 It is recognized that the sound management of sand, e.g. so as to minimize flooding, is also necessary. Because much of the human population too, lives close to—and depends on—major rivers, this has in turn led to severe water stress, especially for the poor in the western and south-western coastal areas, necessitating costly salt water extrusion schemes. Many rivers in the densely-populated western part of the island are already experiencing the risk of suffering serious habitat alteration and water quality loss: immediate remedial measures are therefore needed.
1.3 Article 28(f) of the Constitution makes it the duty of every person in Sri Lanka to protect nature and conserve its riches. Sri Lanka has also committed to the principle of sustainable development and to the sustainable use of its natural resources by subscribing to United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and its Agenda 21.
1.4 This policy statement reflects Sri Lanka’s constitutional, international and national obligations, including the Mines and Minerals Act No. 33 of 1992, the National Environmental Act of 1980, the Coast Conservation Act of 1981 and other relevant legislation, regulations and policy statements. It should be viewed within the evolving policy framework for sustainable development. It defines the commitment of Government, in partnership with the people, to effectively manage the construction-sand resource for the benefit of present and future generations. This Policy supports other national policy initiatives, such as the National Environmental Policy, which was adopted by Cabinet on 15 May 2003.
1.5 Hereinafter, the word “sand” shall mean sand intended for construction purposes. Technical terms are used in the text are explained in Annex 1.
2.1 To minimize the environmental impacts of utilizing Sri Lanka’s sand resources, while sustaining the economic benefits, recognizing that sand resources are both “renewable” (e.g. offshore sand) and “non-renewable” (e.g. dune and inland sand), both of which need to be managed sustainably.
2.2 To develop a dual approach to the wise management of sand resources,
(a) though an effective system of policing within a strong regulatory framework; and
(b) through the granting of incentives including skills training and alternate employment, for the development of sustainable alternatives.
2.3 To establish the priority of environmental over commercial considerations, assuring sound environmental governance and accountability at all levels. This includes determining extractable volumes while applying the precautionary principle; ensuring that extraction methods have low-impact; and putting in place a restoration program that reduces risks to the environment and to society.
3. Policy Principles
3.1 Sand will be utilized only as a managed resource, using the precautionary approach, so as to assure that national supply needs are met in the long term (especially given the uncertainty over future alternatives and the effects they too, may have on local environments).
3.2 A transition to more environmentally friendly alternative sources of sand will be actively developed.
3.3 Exploitation of “non-renewable” sand resources (such as dune and terrestrial deposits) will be strictly controlled and permitted only as an interim measure until industrial capacity for sourcing adequate supplies from “renewable” resources is sufficiently developed
3.4 The guiding principle of environmental management, “the polluter pays”, will be applied throughout, making it the duty of miners to mitigate or reverse the impact their activities have on the environment. The permitted extraction of terrestrial sand resources will require environmental restoration programmes designed and implemented as integral elements of permission to extract.
3.5 Wise design that minimizes demand on natural resources, together with the recycling and reuse of construction materials are seen as the keys to reducing consumption, and will be encouraged.
3.6 Effective management of the environment affected by sand extraction is possible only by linking together the activities, interests and perspectives of all groups, including civil society, industry, non-government organizations and government at the central, provincial, and the local levels. This will be achieved through participatory, transparent, predictable and accountable decision-making processes, especially in relation to the locations from which sand is to be extracted, the quantity extracted and how the mined habitat should be restored.
3.7 The export of sand for the purposes of construction will continue to be prohibited.
4. Policy Statements
For the purposes of sustainable management of sand resources three categories of activities are distinguished:
4.1 Activities Not Permitted
4.1.1 Shore sand. Because of the likely impacts on hydrology, the utilization of shore sand for the construction industry will be prohibited altogether.
4.1.2 Mechanized mining of sand in rivers. In view of the significant environmental consequences this entails, all mechanized sand mining in, and within 60 metres from the banks of major rivers, will be prohibited with immediate effect. All licenses awarded to date will, where legal provision exists to do so, be revoked.
4.2 Activities with conditional permits
4.2.1 Coastal dunes. Although coastal dunes offer significant reserves of sand, their exploitation will be permitted inland of 300 metres of the high tide line only in the short term and by exception, as a transitory measure while more sustainable sources are developed, and only in instances where it is demonstrable through a prior environmental assessment that the post-harvest landscape can be restored to offer an appropriate level of ecological value and where it is not required for coastal protection.
4.2.2 Non-mechanized mining in rivers. It is recognized that non-mechanized sand mining is an important source of income and livelihoods in many areas that must, in the medium term, be supported. In order to minimize the damage such mining causes, permits will be provided to registered community-based organisations whose membership comprises existing river sand extractors. These community based organisations will be assigned the sole extraction rights for specified extraction zones in those rivers for which harvest limits are introduced. Each extraction zone will be supported with a single landing site and will be awarded to the community based organisation for a period of 5 years within which an annual extractable quota will be assigned.
4.2.3 Inland sand deposits. Inland sand deposits, whether or not on private land, shall in terms of the Mines and Minerals Act be treated as minerals. Licences will be provided for their extraction only as an interim measure, until industrial capacity for extracting adequate renewable resources is sufficiently developed. A terrestrial sand resource survey will be completed and a time bound extraction management plan will be prepared by GSMB before January 2006 and updated at five-yearly intervals. The utilisation plan will be integrated with a defined time-bound program for the development of alternative sources of sand. Where sand is extracted from terrestrial reserves such as dunes and former river courses, it shall be the duty of the party extracting such sand, irrespective of the ownership of the land, to rehabilitate the land in accordance with standards specified within the relevant license or permit.
4.3 Activities to be promoted
4.3.1 Offshore sand. Offshore sand, in effect a renewable resource, offers the best long-term solution to meet the national demand for construction aggregate . While the extraction technology exists however, it has been neglected owing to:
(a) the high capital costs involved;
(b) the relatively high cost of production compared with illegally-mined river sand;
(c) the significant environmental impacts that need to be addressed; and
(d) the need to educate a construction industry that has become accustomed to using only river sand.
In view of the large investment capital involved and the significant national benefits that would accrue as a result, the establishment of an offshore-sand industry will be encouraged through appropriate incentives. For this purpose a subcommittee of the Standing Committee will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring sea sand resources are developed within an agreed timeline.
4.3.2 Alternate aggregates. Encouragement will be given for major construction projects to optimize the use of sand and use alternate aggregates such as quarry dust wherever possible, bearing in mind the need to also mitigate the environmental impacts of quarrying and crushing such aggregates.
5. Sand Resource Management Procedures
5.1.1 The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) will, having surveyed available sand resources and defined environmental safeguards, cause to be published details of particular extents of each river (including permissible time-bound volume of extraction) that may be allocated for sand mining.
5.1.2 In the case of terrestrial or inland sand prospective mining operators will be invited to bid for such allocations that are found on State Land. Bids will be evaluated in a transparent manner, taking into account the bidder’s previous experience and record of environmental compliance (if any). Successful bidders will be required to post a bank or other secure guarantee of not less than 25 percent of the estimated gross income from the mined sand in the period under consideration. The guarantee shall be liquidated by the GSMB for the purposes of restoration in the event the bidder fails to perform such restoration to the specification previously laid down by the Central Environmental Authority.
5.1.3 In the case of river sand extraction will be managed under two regimes:
(a) For those rivers with sustainable extraction management plans the annual volume for the river system will be allocated to “river extraction zones” that will have a single landing site. The site will be managed by a registered community based organisation comprising existing extractors. The community based organisation will be provided sole extraction rights for a period of five years for an annual extractable quota. The community based organisation will allocate the quota to individual extractors and be required to establish a single formal landing site. The extraction licence for the site will be awarded to the registered community based organisation who will in return maintain records in the form of a registry. Sand sold from the site will be recorded by invoice and receipt including details of the CBO registration number, the volume and price of sand, and the registration number of the transport vehicle. All transporters of sand shall be in possession of a valid invoice issued by a registered sand mining CBO. The invoice will serve the purposes of a transport permit.
Any sand extracted in excess of the agreed annual quota by the holder the community based organisation will have a penalty applied to their quota. The penalty will amount 1.5 times the illegal volume being deducted from the quota for a period of 3 years.
Any sand extracted illicitly by members or non-members shall be promptly reported by the registered CBO to the Divisional Secretary and the Local Authority. Sand illicitly extracted by non-members that is not reported to officials will face a similar penalty for the registered CBO at the ratio of 1.3 times the volume and will apply for two subsequent years.
Continued offending will result in either a member or a registered CBO being disqualified from sand mining and black listed.
(b) Sand extracted for local use from rivers which are not included in the sand extraction management plan prepared by GSMB will be undertaken by local extractors individually licensed by the Divisional Secretary on a case by case assessment. GSMB will prepare and distribute guidelines for local sand extraction to all Divisional Secretaries.
5.2 In view of the shift from river-sand mining to offshore mining, the controls on mechanized river mining entail a shift in human-resource needs and service provision. Priority will be given to the development of alternate skills and livelihoods among those adversely affected by this transition.
5.3 During the transition from being primarily a river-sand consumer to becoming primarily an offshore-sand consumer, Sri Lanka’s construction industry will be intensively educated on the safe and appropriate use of marine sand, which, it should be noted, does not replace all uses of river sand.
5.4 Unwashed sea sand can pose a real threat to safety and quality in the construction industry. A strict regime of policing will be introduced in the coastal zone to prevent beach sand from being illegally collected and marketed as washed marine sand. It is recognized, however, that the 1991 regulations prohibiting similar collection and use of corals have been unable to achieve effective controls. A strong, effective set of controls has therefore to be put in place to ensure that construction sand is not adulterated or substituted for with untreated sea sand. In this respect, an effective certification system will be introduced so as to give assurance to users that all construction sand in the market meets the necessary quality standards. In view of the need to support construction safety, agreed standards will be developed for sand used in the construction industry with liability clauses that remain valid over extended periods.
5.5 No license shall be awarded for the mining of sand unless a valid guarantee in respect of the full cost of restoration as estimated by the Director General of the Central Environmental Authority has been deposited by the applicant with the GSMB, whose responsibility it shall be to ensure that such restoration is effected concurrently with the mining operation. Such guarantee shall be released only upon certification by the Central Environmental Authority that all mitigation action has been satisfactorily completed.
6. Revenue Procedures
6.1 The GOSL will derive a royalty for all sand extracted based on a percentage of market value with all royalties paid to the General Treasury.
6.2 For sand extracted from those rivers with extraction management plans royalties will be assessed on the annual quota assigned to a collective and paid to the GSMB at the time of issuance of the permit or where not accessible, the Divisional Secretary who will credit it to the GSMB royalty account.
6.3 For sand extracted from rivers with no extraction management plans the royalty will be paid at the time of the issuance of a licence by the Divisional Secretary.
6.4 For off-shore sand the royalty will be paid as part of the extraction licence and reconciled after each dredging season
6.5 There will be no extraction permits other than the quota and the inland river license. As a means of reducing the transaction and compliance costs the current practice of issuing trading licences and transport permits will cease, effective immediately.
7. Monitoring Arrangements
7.1 Monitoring and regulation. As sand is the property of all Sri Lankan citizens of both present and future generations, its use must be both wise and sustainable: accordingly, its extraction, transport and use will be strictly monitored. Authority needed if any, to delegate powers and functions for decentralizing the administrative processes will be provided for, through amendments to the prevailing laws.
7.2 Enforcement will be applied consistently and with the additional strength necessary, by way of amendments or additional regulations to the legal framework (i.e. the MMA, CCA, NEA and other relevant legislation), at the earliest possible opportunity. This will include provision to prescribe officers of the GSMB, the Coast Conservation Department and the Central Environmental Authority with powers of search and arrest. A scheme of providing incentives for reporting offences relating to sand will be introduced
7.3 Divisional Secretaries will be responsible for river sand mining and will be regulated and enforced through police actions through an incentive regime for the sand extraction community based organisations to protect their income sources.
7.4 GSMB will undertake systematic sand resource inventories and stock assessments and through these make any necessary adjustments to the annual extractable volumes bearing in mind the objectives and underlying principles of this policy. GSMB will also monitor inland sand extraction and ensure licence conditions are fully applied.
7.5 GSMB will be solely responsible for monitoring the extraction of off shore sand.
8.1 The Minister in charge of the subject of Environment shall, prior to the Budget each year as part of their annual review, table for the information of Parliament an annual Status Review of Sand outlining the production and consumption trends; pricing; environmental, social, economic and other relevant issues; needs for legislative reform, &c., together with a report on revenues and royalties, and how these are structured.
8.2 Standing Committee on Construction Sand
A standing committee will be established, appointed by the Minister, to coordinate and oversee the implementation of this policy and make recommendations on any revision of the policy that may be deemed necessary, comprised as follows:
· Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources (Chairman)
· Director General, Geological Survey & Mines Bureau (Convenor)
· Director General, Central Environmental Authority
· Director General, Road Development Authority
· Director, Coast Conservation
· General Manager, Sri Lanka Land Reclamation & Development Corporation
· Director General, State Engineering / CECB
· Director General, Board of Investment
· Director General, National Building Research Organization
· A representative of ICTAD
· A representative of the Inspector General of Police
· Three cognizant scientists attached to recognized universities
· Two representatives of non-government organizations focusing on the environment
· Two representatives of the Contractors’ Association
The last three categories above shall be nominated by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Standing Committee shall be dissolved once the objects of this policy have, in the opinion of the Minister, been substantially met.
Explanation of Key Words and Concepts
Aggregate— Natural sands and gravels that are mixed together with cement to make concrete and mortar.
Construction sand— Sand is a resource rich in minerals (see sand, below). While the primary use of sand in terms of volume in Sri Lanka is by the construction industry, high-value minerals are also extracted from (especially coastal) sands, such as rutile.
Miner— Any person engaged in the extraction of sand, or at the site of such extraction, any person directly engaged in the extraction, transport or handling of sand, whether self-employed, employed or contracted.
Non-renewable sand resources— Sand, of which there is only a limited quantity, and that could be exhausted in the near to medium term given present rates of extraction and/or demand.
Offshore— The seabed at a distance of more than 2 km from the tide line or beyond the 15 m depth countour.
Polluter Pays Principle— The principle those who extract or utilize resources are responsible for negating the negative environmental consequences of their actions.
Precautionary Principle— The principle that an when activity carries a potentially high environmental risk that cannot be fully assessed (e.g. for lack of time, money or information), action should be taken to prohibit or restrict the activity before the uncertainty is resolved
Sand— usually small (diameter 0.02–2 mm) particles comprising mainly of quartz, containing small quantities of minerals such as feldspar, mica, garnet, tourmaline, zircon, rutile, illemenite, topaz and pyroxenes. In Sri Lanka, most river sand is of this kind, the result of long years of erosion.
Sea sand— along costs contains much the same constituents as river sand, but involving a smaller, more spherical gain size (__ mm). Sea sand also contains significant “impurities” by way of salts such as magnesium and sodium chlorides, which lead to corrosion in iron. Sea sand is considered unsuitable for the construction industry because of its small particle-size and unless it is treated by washing with freshwater to reduce the chloride content that causes rusting.
Renewable sand resources— Sand, of which there is a long-term supply given moderate rates of extraction, such as offshore sand.
Sustainable utilization— the utilization of a resource in a manner that is compatible with the long-term stability of environmental systems, particularly those essential to human well-being, respecting the rights of future generations also to access and utilize the benefits of the same resource. In the case of sand, utilization may be either strongly or weakly sustainable. The renewable component (excluding sea sand) should demonstrate strong sustainability, whereas weak sustainability may be acceptable where a non-renewable resource (e.g. terrestrial sand deposits) are depleted in a controlled manner while suitable substitutes are developed.