ALAPPUZHA: After Alappad, protests against dredging in Thottapally is gaining momentum with the Congress party taking its reins.
Congress Working Committee (CWC) member K. C. Venugopal MP visited the shore the other day leading protests. The Akhila Kerala Dheevara Sabha has also decided to join the agitation.
Fisheries and ports department granted the consent for mining 41,900 cubic metre sand here to Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) five years back.
It extended in a year later, in 2015, to another 72000 cubic meters at a rate of Rs 660 per cubic metre.
District Congress Committee (DCC) president M. Liju said they would launch a relay protest on January 26 at Matsya Thozhilali Congress convention at Ambalappuzha.
"They mine indiscriminately. There is no system to weigh the sand transported. We'll no longer allow it to happen," he said.
The IREL continues to transport mineral sand despite protests, and it had exceeded the allowed quantity thrice. Earlier, in June 2017, talks fisheries minister J. Mercykutty Amma failed.
The protesters rejected the government's offers including the second phase of harbour development and rehabilitation of people displaced by sea erosion.
According to the panchayat administration, the dredging continues without their consent.
'Government has to give priority to harbour development, not mining," said V. Dinakaran, general secretary of the Dheevara Sabha
"It's time both state and central governments clarify about the future of the harbour. We'll begin relay agitation by the first week of February."
The state had in 2003 decided to lease out a 17-km stretch of land from Valiyazhikkal to Thottappally to Kerala Rare Earths and Minerals Limited (KREML) for mining for 20 years.
"The phenomenon of high and low tide results in deposits of mineral sand to the shore. It should be used for levelling areas hit by sea erosion," says A.S. Sudarshan, a resident
The fisherman had fought a long battle to end the transport.
"The sand is precisely the resource of the panchayat," he said.
"If the land taken away by the sea is not being levelled, the panchayat will vanish from the map. So the government has to decide whether minerals should be used for the welfare of the people."...