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Mining In Aravallis

Aravallis, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world is almost 700 kilometres long that starts from India’s western state of Gujarat, travels through Rajasthan and South Haryana before terminating in Delhi. 80% of the Aravalli range – around 550 kilometres of its length is in Rajasthan. Rajasthan government has allowed mining in the Aravallis under “legal safeguards”. But the mine operators flout all environment rules. Illegal mining is taking place in Rajasthan on a scale even larger than that of legal mining operations. A 2018 report by the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) says that 25 per cent of the Aravalli range has been lost due to illegal mining in Rajasthan. Of the 128 hills of Alwar district in Rajasthan that were sampled from a total of 2269 hills, it was observed that 31 Aravalli hills have vanished from the time the Survey of India topographic sheets were prepared in 1967-68, says the CEC report.

In Gujarat, illegal mining in Banas-kantha, Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts—the three districts where the Aravalli range spans—has adversely affected the ecology. The Balaram Ambaji sanctuary, a protected area, in Banaskantha is badly bearing the brunt of mining.

In South Haryana, Aravallis extend in the 7 districts of Gurugram, Nuh, Faridabad, Palwal, Rewari, Bhiwani and Mahendragarh. Aravallis in Haryana have been ravaged by mining for many years. In 2009, the Supreme Court came to its rescue and banned all mining activity in the Haryana Aravallis in 3 districts – Gurugram, Nuh and Faridabad. However, mining for stone and sand continues illegally in these areas. One of the ecologically very significant areas where illegal mining is happening is in the Bhood areas. This area consists of sand dunes which are ecologically very sensitive and typically occur on the western flanks of the Aravalli range. Due to their porous nature, they have high percolation level and serve as a vital groundwater recharge zone, especially for the excess water flowing down the rocky Aravalli slopes during the monsoon. Ground water tables in Haryana and India’s National Capital Region are rapidly going down and illegal mining activity is destroying the critical water recharge zone of this belt. Read this blog for information on what the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement has done to highlight and stop illegal mining going on in the Haryana Aravallis.


In January 2022, five people were killed in a landslide at Tosham’s Dadam mining zone in the Bhiwani district of Haryana. The incident put the spotlight on the mining activities in Aravalli hills flouting prescribed rules and threatening local ecology. According to the official documents, nearly three reserved forests and three protected forests falls within a 10 km radius of the mine lease area. Excavation was being conducted at about 250 metres against the permissible limit of 78 metres in the forest areas of the Aravallis. This resulted in the base becoming hollow and the rocks came down in the form of a landslide which killed five people. 

Dadam is just a mirror for other mines. Mining is causing irreversible damage in the Aravalli belt in Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In all these areas, people are left without groundwater since the miners have taken all the water out of the ground. Phulchand from Meena Ka Nangal village in Neem ka Thana area in Sikar district says, “The miners do not follow any rules. They put a lot of barood. One box is of 25 kilo. They put 5 boxes in one hole and they cut 40 metre holes. Blasting results in massive vibrations and pollution and generates a lot of smoke which makes it difficult for us to breathe. People here are suffering from asthma, tuberculosis, silicosis and other diseases. Our crops are also suffering as the dust settles on the vegetation. There are no normal deliveries taking place in the cattle. This is Aravalli area. There should be no mining allowed here. The reality is that the mining mafia operate with no fear of the law and call the police if the villagers protest. The police does not listen to us. Our lives are a living hell.”

Radhe Shyam, a resident of Shuklawas village from Kotputli area in Jaipur district says, “In Rajasthan, the on ground situation is that the government gives leases for mining in the Aravalli hills that are very close to the villages. Our village is situated in the Aravalli foothills. One complete hill near our village has been destroyed by mining. Another hill next to it is also being destroyed. There is no political will to stop it. With the Aravalli hills disappearing, all our native medicinal trees are finishing. The pastures in which our cattle used to feed in the Aravallis are getting destroyed. The environment is getting adversely affected with the trees gone. Our water security is extremely threatened. Our right to life will only be respected if the mining activities are stopped.”



Aravallis are a massive green lung and carbon sink for entire North West India. Mining activities result in deforestation which is reducing the pollution and carbon sink of this highly polluted region. The denudation of forests in the Aravallis coupled with climate change is also increasing the intensity of dust storms hitting north-west India. An increase in ozone precursors — carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide — takes place after major dust events, which is likely to enhance surface ozone. Such processes also increase PM 2.5 and PM 10 and harmful greenhouse gases at the surface that has an adverse impact on human health. In 2018 alone, 50 such storms and 500 deaths were reported till July in northeast of Aravallis. 


With hill after hill being razed to the ground by mining across the Aravalli range, entire North West India is at the risk of being desertified and becoming a dust bowl aggravating air pollution problems in this region. Aravallis form a physical barrier between the plains of northern India and the Thar desert and help to check the spread of the Thar Desert towards eastern Rajasthan, the Indo-Gangetic Plains, western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and India’s National Capital Region. A study by the Haryana government, conducted with the help of data acquired using remote sensors, showed there are at least 12 breaches in the Aravali range totalling 93 km. These gaps extend from Magra peak in Ajmer, Rajasthan, to the rises in Madhogarh and Khetri in Jhunjhunu district, and the hills towards the north of Mahendragarh district in Haryana. And it is through the longest of the gaps (22 km), called Singhana-Digrota, that dust storms blow into Delhi-NCR. The affected area under sand dunes in the 12 gaps is 5,680 sq km. In another study, carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 2017, it was revealed that sand dunes have been found in Harchandpur village of Sohna, as close as 20 km from Gurgaon and 60 km from Delhi. Worryingly, the sands of the Thar are inching closer to the National Capital Region.


North West India’s water security is under huge threat with Aravalli hills disappearing as Aravallis with their natural cracks and fissures are this region’s most critical water recharge zone. Aravallis have the potential to put 2 million litres of water per hectare in the ground every year. Central Ground Water Board 2017 report revealed that aquifers in Aravallis are interconnected and any alterations in the pattern can disturb the groundwater tables. The report also stated that the natural drainage pattern has already been altered due to haphazard mining and urbanisation of Gurgaon. A serious ecological impact of digging or mining to a great depth is puncturing of aquifers, which disturbs the water flow, results in drying of lakes and popping up of new ones as seen in Gurugram and Faridabad Aravallis. The 2017 Wildlife Institute of India (WII) report confirmed the vanishing of rivers like Banas, Luni, Sahibi, Indori and Sakhi, which originated in the Aravallis.


Aravali hills have been instrumental in shaping the climate of the north western region in India and the upper Indo-Gangetic plain. Destruction of the hills and forests due to mining is increasing the local temperatures and adversely impacting rainfall patterns in eastern Rajasthan, Haryana, western UP and Delhi. Occurrence of normal rainfall in these states is dependent on the preservation of the green forest cover of the Aravallis and the resultant normal evapo-transpiration process over the Aravalli hills.


Wildlife that lives in the Aravallis: 200+ bird species, 100+ butterfly species, 20+ reptile species, 20+ mammal species including the leopard are under severe threat. Shrinking habitat in the Aravallis due to mining has forced wild animals to venture into areas outside the forest in search of food and water leading to more cases of man-animal conflict.


Citizens are losing beautiful Aravalli areas where people find their connect with nature as a result of mining.


1) Since the state governments are failing to protect the Aravallis, an independent Aravalli Protection Authority must be constituted for protection of the entire Aravalli range as one ecosystem across the 4 states of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

2) Mining across the Aravalli range in all states needs to be banned and native plantation & restoration activities must be done in all areas that have been degraded due to mining.

3) Strict action needs to be taken against the mining mafia carrying out illegal felling of trees and mining activities and the officials who are turning a blind eye to allow the destruction of the Aravalli hills.

4) Number of forest and police check posts and guards patrolling the Aravalli forests need to be increased significantly and drones must be used for surveillance to identify and stop illegal tree felling and mining activities.

5) Supreme Court orders that have banned mining in Haryana must be respected.

6) The beauty of the Aravalli ecosystem must be preserved by declaring the entire Aravalli range as a permanent biosphere reserve and world heritage site where no mining or real estate or any other commercial activities are allowed. This will help save North West India’s critical water recharge zone, shield against desertification, climate regulator and important wildlife habitat.

7) A policy must be adopted for use of alternative and eco friendly materials such as fly ash bricks for construction so the need to mine stone and sand from eco sensitive areas like the Aravallis is removed.


Haryana government’s ask to the Supreme Court in early 2021 to legalise mining in the NCR Aravallis will lead to severe environmental impacts threatening the survival of millions of people living in the National Capital Region as well as the wildlife that calls these forests home. Restarting of mining operations legally will be a death-blow to this ecosystem. Both the Chief Justice of India and the Haryana government need to hear from lakhs of citizens from NCR and across India saying no to legalising mining in the Aravallis.

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