The Madhya Pradesh government today imposed a ban on sand mining on the Narmada riverbed and formed a committee of experts to suggest measures to prevent ecological damage to the river, considered as the lifeline of the state.

The move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over the condition of rivers in the country. He was speaking at a programme last week on the conclusion of a campaign to conserve the Narmada river.

Machines banned

The state government has also banned the use of machines for mining in all rivers across Madhya Pradesh.

“A committee, which includes experts from IIT-Kharagpur and headed by Cabinet Minister Rajendra Shukla, has been formed to make suggestions on sand mining in the Narmada river,” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told reporters here. “We have decided to completely ban mining in the Narmada river till this committee gives its report.”

Chouhan said the committee would make recommendations after a scientific study to prevent any ecological damage to the river.

The chief minister also said that vehicles found involved in illegal mining would be impounded henceforth, instead of a fine being imposed on them.

The BJP-led state government has been under attack over illegal sand mining on the banks of the Narmada river. The Congress alleged that illegal mining had been going on under political patronage.

State Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra alleges that the decision to ban mining has been taken just before the rains to benefit those who have stored the sand illegally.

Conservation campaign

The state government had earlier held the ‘Namami Devi Narmade Sewa Yatra’, a river conservation campaign, which started on December 11 last year, which concluded on May 15.

During the yatra, the Chief Minister announced a complete ban on mining activities around Amarkantak, the place of origin of the Narmada river.