KOLLAM: Criticising the illegal black sand mining taking place along the coast of Kollam district, social activist and Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey on Friday said there is a ploy happening in connection with the mineral mining to force the local residents out of the area so that the contractors can illegally carry out mining activities by smuggling out resources. Mr. Pandey was addressing the gathering by declaring solidarity with the villagers of Alappad on their 365th day of protest.
"If necessary I am willing to come again to sit on a fast to oppose mining and bring more power to this struggle with solidarity from outside," Mr. Pandey added. The protesters also lined up in sea along the shore at Vellanathuruthu here forming 'Sagara Shayanam' a human chain as part of marking a year of their campaign 'Save Alappad Stop Mining'.
The local residents of Alappad have been conducting a relay hunger protest against illegal black sand mining without getting proper environmental clearance from concerned agencies including Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA).
The protest, which took an organised form started on November 1 last year, had become a massive movement under 'Save Alappad, Stop Mining' campaign with various social and cultural activists declaring solidarity with the people of Alappad, despite sabotage attempts by the local body and bureaucrats.
Alappad grama panchayat in Karunagappally Taluk is located as a narrow strip between the TS Canal and the Arabian Sea at in coastal Kollam. As per the Litho Map of 1955 by the Government of Kerala, the village had an area of 89.5 square kilometres. According to the protesters, the black sand mining in the area has shrunk it to just 7.6 square kilometres. The narrowest part of the land strip has become just 33 meters between the canal and the sea.
According to the protesters, the sea washing process by mining black sand by Indian Rare Earth Ltd. violating the CRZ norms had made the sea to inundate the entire coast of Alappad; and Arattupuzha and Thrikkunnappuzha panchayats in Alappuzha district. The agriculture including coconut cultivation in Mukkumpuzha and Panakkada fields have vanished from Revenue records, the protesters alleged.