First Advisor

Margaret Everett

Date of Publication

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Sand and gravel mines and mining -- Environmental aspects -- Sri Lanka, Sand and gravel mines and mining -- Economic aspects -- Sri Lanka, Rivers -- Sri Lanka -- Eastern Province, Environmental sociology -- Sri Lanka



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 106 p.) : col. ill.


River sand mining from the Maha Oya is the main source of income and a force that drives economic activity for residents along the river. This study takes place in Sri Lanka, there are three villages included in this project: Jambugaswatte, Janituspuraya and Thoppuwa. In Sri Lanka, sand serves as the main building material. It is used to make bricks, tiles, asphalt and concrete, therefore demanding a high market value. However, the over-extraction of sand comes along with significant environmental problems. These communities depend on the river in many ways and the health of the river directly corresponds to the health of the ecosystem as a whole. Along the Maha Oya two important elements of survival are in conflict with one another: residents simultaneously need a healthy, thriving ecosystem to live in, as well as economic opportunities. With support from the Environmental Foundation Ltd. (EFL)--a Sri Lankan environmental justice NGO--this study focuses on the complex situation with sand mining on the Maha Oya. Data for this study comes from fifteen formal interviews with a Sinhala-English translator. These interviews are used to address the two research questions for this project: how do village residents along the Maha Oya perceive sand mining? And what are the emotional, practical and theoretical responses of village residents to the effects of sand mining on their local ecosystems? In order to envision a sustainable future, it is vital to begin with a clear understanding of community perceptions of these complex issues, which are at the heart of this project.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Sociology

Persistent Identifier