Sand is one of the most-consumed natural resources on the planet. The United Nations estimates that mining of sand and gravel may exceed 40 billion tonnes a year.
Due to the high demand for sand, the planet’s reserves are now being threatened: three-quarters of the world’s beaches are already in decline.
Sand is used in our daily life in numerous ways. Houses, skyscrapers, bridges, airports and sidewalks are all partially comprised of sand, making it an essential requirement for the construction booms happening around the world.
Sand is also the source of silicon dioxide, or silica, a mineral found in our wines, cleaning products and detergents, paper, toothpaste and an astounding variety of other products we use on a daily basis.
“It’s almost become like air, the air we breathe. We don’t think too much about it, but you can’t live without it,” says Kiran Pereira, the founder of SandStories.org.
|Sand is an essential requirement for the construction booms happening due to growing urbanisation [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]|
In parts of the world, scarcity of sand has triggered smuggling bands – or “sand mafias” – to plunder beaches and rivers for this highly prized commodity.
“A lot of the people who control the sand mafia also control a lot of the construction materials businesses in Bombay, as well as the construction itself,” said Sumaira Abdulali, the president of the Awaaz Foundation.
“They also control the administration through their political contacts, so that just completes the whole value chain – right from extraction to construction, the profits in each part of it, the administration, and the police.”
As a result, the mafias are just adding to the pressure facing the world’s beaches.
Sand Wars investigates the ramifications of the depletion of sand as a resource, taking us around the world to witness this new gold rush first hand.
Source: Al Jazeera