Monitoring committee scheduled to meet next week

Sand mining in the Moovattupuzha and the Periyar rivers, banned by the district administration this week, will resume only after the State-level environmental monitoring committee studies the results of the sand auditing of these rivers.

District Collector P.I. Sheik Pareeth told The Hindu on Tuesday that the State-level committee was scheduled to meet next week and a decision on continuing sand mining in the two major river systems in the district would be taken based on the outcome of the meeting.

Mining of sand from the river beds had resumed temporarily in December despite opposition from environmental activists, who had called for a detailed study of the situation.

S. Sitaraman of All Kerala River Protection Council welcomed the decision by the district administration to ban sand mining, which was previously permitted at 54 ghats (kadavu) spread over 21 local administrative bodies in the district.

Dr. Sitaraman was among a group of environmental activists, who had served a legal notice on the District Collector against the resumption of sand mining in the Moovattupuzha and the Periyar rivers in December.

The legal notice had said that the temporary permits for sand mining violated the existing laws and the National Green Tribunal ruling.

Dr. Sitaraman said the move to allow sand mining, even temporarily, went against the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 as well as the National Green Tribunal order in August last year.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the study of the two river systems and their sand audit are yet to be submitted to the state government. Sources said the study of the Periyar, though complete, was yet to be submitted to the government. At the same time, study of the Moovattupuzha has been delayed.

The results of the studies will determine whether sand mining can be continued in these rivers. The study will also recommend the number of ghats that can be allowed to open and the quantum of sand that can be mined out of the river systems.

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