Human chain in sea to save Alappad today

Deccan Chronicle.

Nation, Current Affairs

Relay hunger strike started by villagers against black sand mining completes one year.

The mining being conducted by the Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IRE), a public sector company, for the last six decades has reduced the land strip between TS Canal and Arabian Sea to just 33 metres with nearly 20,000 hectares of land in 81.5 sqkm claimed by the sea.

KOLLAM: The 'Save Alappad stop mining' campaign launched by the people of the area will take a new turn with the protestors planning to form a human chain in the sea on Friday.

The relay hunger strike started by the villagers on November 1 last year against black sand mining by public sector companies has completed one year, but the authorities have turned a deaf ear to their grievances.

So they have changed their mode of protest and will stage a 'Sagara Shayanam' at Vellanathuruthu to draw public attention to their plight.

Social activist and Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey will address the gathering.

The local residents under the Karimanal Khananavirudha Janakeeya Samiti has also organised a coastal march at Azheekkal on Thursday.

The mining being conducted by the Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IRE), a public sector company, for the last six decades has reduced the land strip between TS Canal and Arabian Sea to just 33 metres with nearly 20,000 hectares of land in 81.5 sqkm claimed by the sea. The mining has been going on without environmental clearance from the agencies concerned, including Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA).

"The government should stop the illegal mining as the entire Odanadu and Kuttanadu will be inundated by sea water once Alappad, which is now just a sand bund, vanishes," Alappad protest council convenor K.C. Sreekumar told Deccan Chronicle.

The KMML is continuing the sea washing process despite government assurance to stop it. An expert committee appointed by the government without a representative of the protest council made no mention of the lost land area of Alappad or the environmental impact of illegal mining, he added.

Alappad grama panchayat in Karunagappally taluk is a narrow strip between the TS canal and the Arabian sea in coastal Kollam. As per the Litho Map of 1955 prepared by the government of Kerala, the village had an area of 89.5 square km, but it has shrunk to just 7.6 square km now. The narrowest part of the land strip is just 33 metres between the canal and the sea.

According to the protesters, the sea washing process has inundated the entire coast of Alappad and the Arattupuzha and Thrikkunnappuzha panchayats in Alappuzha district. Agriculture, including coconut cultivation, in Mukkumpuzha and Panakkada fields has vanished from revenue records, they say.

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