Temporary permits for sand mining in Periyar and Muvattupuzha rivers are against norms, say activists

A group of environmentalists in the district has served a legal notice on District Collector P.I. Sheik Pareeth, warning him against contempt of court and terming illegal the district administration’s decision on Monday to issue temporary permits for sand mining in the Periyar and Muvattupuzha rivers.

The legal notice, seen by The Hindu, said that the temporary permit was “in utter disregard of law” and that there was “no such law in this country to enable temporary violation of the laws”.

The District Collector, however, said that the move to issue the temporary permit was not illegal. He told The Hindu on Tuesday that the three-month permits were being issued for the existing kadavus (sites along the river systems where sand mining is allowed) with a view to completing sand auditing and other studies within this period.

He claimed that there was nothing illegal about the permits and that they were issued within the limits of the existing State laws governing sand mining. He said the studies being carried out under the supervision of the Centre for Earth Sciences Studies (CESS) for the Periyar and Muvattupuzha rivers would be completed within three months. The kadavus and quota of sand that can be mined from the rivers would be fixed afresh according to the findings of the study, the Collector said.

The legal notice to the Collector claimed that no laws could prevail over Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and that the National Green Tribunal passed an order on August 29 disallowing sand mining in all rivers and directed the States to file affidavits on the steps taken by them.

Hence, the temporary permits issued for sand mining from the two rivers in the district challenged the directives from the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court of India, the legal notice said.

The sand auditing is being carried out by the city-based Centre for Socio-Economic and Environmental Studies under the supervision of the Centre for Earth Sciences Studies (CESS).

A spokesman for All Kerala River Protection Council, Aluva, alleged here on Tuesday that the move to permit temporary sand mining in the district’s rivers came under political pressure and would result in looting of the natural resources.

The spokesman claimed that there was no spot in the Periyar river system from where sand could be removed legally adhering to even State laws.

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