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Illegal sand and gravel extraction causes environmental damage worth over $6.4mn in Uzbekistan

Photo: Unlawful activities uncovered along the Chirchiq River

Posted on May 1, 2024

In a recent operation spearheaded by the Environmental Control Inspectorate of the Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection, and Climate Change, alarming discoveries have emerged concerning illicit undertakings valued at over UZS 80bn ($6.4mn), posing a dire threat to the delicate ecosystem of the coastal zone along the Chirchiq River in Tashkent city’s Sergeli district, Uzbekistan.

Authorities uncovered unauthorized extraction of sand and gravel within a protected area of the river. The operation involved the use of heavy machinery, including an excavator and two trucks, which were promptly halted on-site. The extracted materials were replaced with remnants of construction concrete, exacerbating environmental degradation.

Further investigation revealed that these activities were conducted without proper authorization and were facilitated by equipment belonging to GRM. Contrary to regulations outlined in a decree issued by the khokim (the mayor) of the Sergeli district on August 26, 2019, the designated land area allocated for landscaping purposes was misused. Instead of fulfilling the directive to plant flowers and tree seedlings, the area was subjected to unlawful extraction and waste disposal.

The repercussions of these violations extend beyond mere environmental degradation. As per the Environmental Inspectorate’s assessment, the illegal extraction of sand and gravel caused damage estimated at over UZS 21.4bn ($1.7mn), while improper waste disposal further contributed to losses of approximately UZS 112.5mn ($8,954).

In a parallel effort, prompted by a directive from the Prosecutor General’s Office, additional investigations were conducted along another section of the Chirchiq River within the Sergeli district. These investigations revealed similar illegal activities, with approximately 4 hectares of protected river area being exploited for sand and gravel extraction. The cumulative environmental damage in this instance is estimated at around UZS 62.3bn ($4.9mn).

All relevant documentation pertaining to these egregious violations has been forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s Office for legal evaluation. It is anticipated that legal actions will be taken against the perpetrators, and measures will be implemented to compensate for the substantial damage inflicted upon the natural environment.

Photo: Illegal sand extraction threatens Chirchiq River’s protected areas


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