Truckloads of sand being taken away from Mulloor

The relatively unexplored stretches of Mulloor, about 16 km from the city, are facing the danger of beach sand being smuggled away.

According to locals, the latest instance was late on Thursday near the Coconut Bay resort, where local residents blocked a lorry trying to take a full load of sand. “This has been going on for some time now. Some of them show us passes issued by the District Collector allowing them to take sand away for uses in religious places. Though there is a limit prescribed for such permits, they do not adhere to it. Just because they show a pass, even the police do not do much,” the residents alleged. District Collector K.N. Satheesh told The Hindu that No Objection Certificates were issued for a maximum of four loads, for use in religious places. This was issued with the Geology Department being paid a royalty and the sand had to be taken under the supervision of village officials. Such permits were not issued for beaches were soil erosion was an issue, he added.

Vizhinjam Circle Inspector Stuart Keeler said the police was keeping an eye on the issue and that two persons were arrested and remanded late last month. The police were monitoring the activities in the night as well, he added. At Mulloor, meanwhile, local residents like Satheesh said it was mostly in the night that groups came and took away the sand. Those who opposed the activity were sometimes threatened. But, of late, after the residents ganged up and decided to take on the activity strongly, the smuggling groups had kept away from inhabited areas and were now targeting relatively quieter stretches of the beach, he said.

“If this continues, this beach, which is largely unexplored, will soon face the threat of soil erosion and other environmental issues.”