Veditum - Sand Mining Monitoring - Updates thread

Hello everyone, this is Veditum India Foundation’s first post on Grove. Happy to be sharing project updates here and possibly find partners and collaborators!

Veditum is a not-for-profit research and media organization based out of Kolkata, India - registered as a Section 8 company. We work at the intersection of environmental, cultural and social challenges. Our current work is centered on Indian rivers, and life in and around these rivers. We aim to create publicly accessible records – ecological, anthropogenic, hydrological, social, and even more contextual layers – of these spaces and of people’s stories.

It is also our constant endeavor to work in partnership with other organisations and collecives. Some of our partners include India Rivers Forum (IRF), International Rivers (IR), Let India Breathe (LIB), Manthan Adhayan Kendra, Megh Pyne Abhiyan (MPA), Ooloi Labs, Out of Eden Walk (OOEW) and South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).

  1. Overall updates (since the last update)

This is our first update on Grove. In mid 2022 we received support from Rainmatter Foundation towards a new project that we’ve undertaken - Sand Mining Monitoring - which is part of our larger efforts in the space of environmental accountability. We’re executing this project in collaboration with Mumbai based Ooloi Labs. Please check them out here:

As part of our work, we’ve also been investigating, reporting and analysing the sand mining sector in India for the past half decade. Based upon our understanding, we’ve designed this new platform - Sand Mining Monitoring - which is designed to fulfill two main functions:

  • Act as a public facing archive of all sand mining related activity in India - news articles, survey reports, guidelines, tender documents, legal proceedings.

  • Offer a platform and format for users to document instances of sand mining across India in the form of case files, link the case files to the different documents mentioned above (and more).

This comprehensive database can then be used by individuals or collectives to monitor this activity pan India. The platform will also enable connections across geographies, between people who may be able to create larger impact / change or even a simple change in their own lives, by working together.

We imagine that this platform will be of use and interest to different types of actors: affected citizens, concerned citizens, activists, environmentalists, journalists, academics, civil society organisations, and even the administration (should they choose to honestly engage).

This platform is currently invite only, so please write to me at [email protected] and we will send you an invite!

  1. Progress on the goals listed while on-boarding

Our goals for the first year for this project include:

  • Setting up the platform from scratch (this is built on the Open Knowledge Framework by Ooloi Labs) - this is somewhat done and now we’re in an iterative process of improvements and changes.
  • Hiring a new member - we have a new member who joined us in October 2022 for this particular project.
  • Testing the platform and building collaborations and partnerships - we’ve been testing the platform since October 2022, and are currently working on onboarding institutional partners.
  • Addition of new users - Starting December, we have initiated introductory sessions and workshops, where we have been inviting members from across our network who we have worked with in the past and / or have shown interest in the subject.
  • Addition of data - We have certain targets on number of news reports, tender documents, survey reports, court documents and case files that we want to add to the platform by the end of year 1. We’ve been able to add:
    • 266 news reports
    • 20 district survey reports
    • 20 tender documents

These documents are tagged with various metadata that make them searchable through various simple filters of river / state / district / sub-district. This is info that we have been able to add through the testing phase and are hoping for the numbers to pick up with new users - who have already started adding data to the platform.

Most modules are being updated based on inputs of users, and some are seeing a significant overhaul. The case file module will see a rise as we have more workshops in the coming months.

  • We hope to have fresh eyes on the platform, and will soon be engaging interns as well as designers / analysts in Summer 2023 to create outputs based on the data on the platform.
  • Media reports - We had also imagined media reports emerging based on the platform data. Now that data addition is happening, we’re continuously engaging media persons to publish based on this information. Including state / district / tehsil / river profiles on sand mining.
  1. Any challenges
  • The main challenge for us continues to be the same reason why we started this project in the first place - availability of data in the public domain. But we’re hoping that with a more geographically and linguistically diverse user base, we will be able to address this to some extent.
  • Another challenge that we see is to be able to get users to be comfortable with geo-cordinates and maps. Any tips on this will be appreciated.
  • Reaching out beyond our 1st to 3rd degree networks - no matter how hard we try, there are limits to our networks. A significant challenge is going to be to break out of this limit to find more individuals and organisations who can add to and make use of the platform.
  1. Any new avenues of collaboration (with other Grantees of RCF or other NPO/NGO)

Just continuing from the challenges section, there’s a potential for collaboration in all the mentioned challenges. Plus, we’d love to see others NGOs / NPOs / academic organisations / media orgs and collectives collaborating with us on:

  • Data addition and visualisaiton (numeric and geospatial data)
  • Onboarding of more users
  • Communications - not just social media, but also as films, reports, comics, etc
  • Hosting of physical zonal workshops (which we seek to begin in another 3-4 months)
  • Will update with more possibilities as they develop
  1. Highlights from the initiatives being undertaken as part of your organization

In something that came as a surprise to us, this project was shortlisted for the Agami Prize 2022, under the Idea Prize category. Their website says about the Idea Prize:

“The Idea Prize will be awarded to two early-stage initiatives that could innovatively transform our systems of law and justice. These initiatives are testing and/or building proof of concept for their ideas. The Idea Prize is offered in memory of Late Justice R Jayasimha Babu.”

And through our sessions and workshops, we’ve been getting great feedback from the community. It reassures us to see that this platform is serving a felt need in this sector.

  1. Outcomes you are chasing for the next 6 months (these can remain the same if unchanged since the last update)

Our future outcomes on this project continue to be increased data addition, partnerships and publication on the same lines as described earlier.

  1. (please use this section to let us know of the impact and reach of your work since the last update).

This is our first update!

  1. Can Rainmatter be of help with anything at all

With respect to this platform: As we move ahead, any help with communications advise and media partnerships are welcome.

  1. Any additional details you would like to provide

Please checkout the full scope of our work on our website -, and reach out to us if you’d like to support out work

We’re on social media on the following links if you’d like to come hang out and / or get updates:





Our newsletter lives here:

  1. Please also share any images or videos that you have documented as part of your work

We will add images and videos in the next update!


Sharing a quick update about media publishing that has started off as a result of journalists being able to access aggregated data on sand mining from our Sand Mining Monitoring platform.

A series of short features on large scale (sometimes illegal) and destructive sand mining activity in India’s rivers is being highlighted online by Down To Earth magazine. This will finally culminate into a 4-5 page print / digital article in the magazine.

Checkout the first feature talking about large scale (and seemingly illegal) sand mining activity on Kathajodi river (part of the Mahanadi system) in Odisha -

Here’s one of the graphics:

We will update this thread with more of these once they’re published. Grove members who find this work to be of interest, email me at [email protected] and we’ll invite you to the platform.


Hi all, I had shared snippets of a story that was to be published in Down To Earth magazine guided from the work we’re doing with the Sand Mining Monitoring platform that we’ve created. The piece has now been published both digitally and in the print version of the magazine.

Sharing the link to the digital story for you to go through and requesting Grove members who find this work to be of interest, email me at [email protected] and we’ll invite you to the platform.

We’re also looking for organisations / individuals from different parts of India whose work may be at an intersection with the issue of sand mining. If that is you / your org, please reach out or suggest names if you can think of any.

Link to the story:

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Hi all, here to add a quick follow up about recent happenings about Veditum’s Sand Mining Monitoring project, and to invite folks for collaborations!

  • We now have a new name for the project, we’re calling it India Sand Watch. For those who are reading about our work for the first time, quick intro:

India Sand Watch is an open-data project enabling collection, annotation & archiving of data related to sand mining in India. We’re building collaborations and capacity for research, and for actors to take action. The platform is designed to fulfil two main functions:

  1. Act as a public facing archive of all sand mining related activity in India - news articles, survey reports, guidelines, tender documents, legal proceedings.
  2. Offer a platform and format for users to document instances of sand mining across India in the form of case files, link the case files to the different documents mentioned above (and more).

Back to the updates:

  • We did an online launch event for the project on Thursday - 10th August. It was a well attended event and we’re now building conversations with those in attendance to take the work ahead.

  • The platform is now live, please check it out - and all the data that is already on it - at this link: What should you expect to see? Close to 1000 reports of various kinds, related to sand mining in India, and a growing repository of primary information on sand mining activity across India!

  • The India Sand Watch launch event recording is now available on youtube:

  • To be able to add data to the platform, you’ll have to come by for an introductory session. Once you attend it, we’ll create a contributor account for you on the platform. Please pick a slot of your convenience using the following link. : India Sand Watch - Intro Sessions · Luma

  • A feature about the India Sand Watch project appeared on The Third Pole, find it here: New platform unites tech and activism to monitor sand mining in India | The Third Pole

  • We will be releasing status reports on the topic of sand mining from a few states of India in the coming week. These have been prepared by interns who worked with Veditum in June - July 2023. If you’d be interested in receiving an alert for that, let us know.

  • Finally, please checkout the platform. If you think there are possibilities of collaboration / partnership between your work and India Sand Watch / Veditum, we look forward to hearing from you. Email here: [email protected]

Just putting this here again. Please check out the India Sand Watch platform, now live at this link:


Congratulations Sid & Akshay!

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Thanks, @Mari.

Also sharing Veditum’s annual activity report for April 2022 - March 2023. It showcases the other work, including projects, communications and public interactions that we’ve undertaken at Veditum in the past year. I believe it might be of interest to folks visiting grove.

The report is available at this link -

Also adding the pdf here for easy access:

Veditum22-23-ActivityReport-Web.pdf (5.0 MB)

Jumping in with a quick update:

:sparkles:We recently reached a new milestone with the India Sand Watch project.

:checkered_flag: We’ve been able to digitise over 1000 news reports - corresponding to 15000+ data points. And all of this data is accessible without the need to login anywhere! Data downloads to be available soon - and a long term plan is in the works for an API based access as well, so that this can feed into other databases.

We created a short report about this, here’s the cover page:

And here’s the report in pdf form:
ISW-1000Reports.pdf (1.3 MB)

You can checkout the news report related data on this link: India Sand Watch

We also did a Data Sprint recently, a record and report of which can be seen in this post on grove - River Chambal Data Sprint - 13th January - 12pm IST | India Sand Watch

:world_map: Join us as partners / contributors. We would love to explore how data from India Sand Watch can intersect with your work to push for incremental changes. Slide into my DMs or email me at [email protected]!