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S1 E18: Line in the Sand

Line in the Sand

The world is running low on sand. It's a basic ingredient in construction — think skyscrapers, shopping malls, roads and windows — and cities are growing faster and bigger than at any time in history.

In India, where the government promises to build the equivalent of a "new Chicago" every year, the demand is insatiable. Its construction industry is said to have tripled its sand consumption since 2000.

Legal supply can't keep up. So now organized criminals are hitting pay dirt, pillaging millions of tons of sand from the nation's beaches, riverbeds and hillsides. Construction wants sand hewn by water, not by wind. So it's waterways, not deserts, that face devastation.

The sand mafia is prepared to kill. Ask farmer Brijmohan Yadav. He took on illegal sand miners and was kidnapped and beaten. He now lives in hiding, away from his family, in fear for his life and theirs.

Or Akaash Chauhan, whose father was asleep at home when three men stormed in and shot him dead. He had complained about the sand mafia trashing communal land. Akaash's brother died mysteriously a year later.

Akaash guides the Foreign Correspondent team to where illegal miners are working. As the team films, a man confronts them.

With authorities paralyzed by inertia or corruption, it's up to a small band of activists to take the fight to the sand mafia and expose the dirty secret at the heart of India's construction frenzy.

Available until
2020-05-10T00:00:00-07:00
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