Collector directed to take stern action

Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash on Sunday directed District Collector P.M. Ali Asgar Pasha to take stern action against illegal sand-mining from the Bharathapuzha in Shoranur.

Besides illegal sand-mining, hundreds of acres of the riverbed, dried up during the summer, has been converted into vegetable farms. The authorities have not yet taken any action against this.

Though the Shoranur municipality has issued only limited number of passes to mine sand from the Bharathapuzha, passes issued by local bodies in Thrissur district are used to illegally transport sand from Palakkad district.

The Bharathapuzha Protection Committee secretary, Indanur Gopi, said that illegal sand-mining was carried out with the connivance of the Revenue, Water Resources and Police officials.

Roads were cut through the riverbed in Shoranur recently to smuggle the 40-ft high heap of sand, costing crores of rupees, mined from the river during the construction of the Shoranur-Cheruthuruthy check dam recently.

Hundreds of trucks lined up on the dried-up riverbed, violating the ban on the entry of vehicles on the river course, are an everyday sight in the region. Also, hundreds of people can be seen transporting sand in gunny bags on head loads in the Shoranur-Pattambi areas.

Indiscriminate and illegal sand-mining affects the drinking water supply schemes and threatens the very existences of the river. Sand mining has affected water supply schemes in Ottapalam, Shoranur and Pattambi, which depend on the Bharathapuzha water. Every year the depth of the well dug in the middle of the river course for drawing water for the water supply schemes had to be increased due to the depletion of the water table, Mr. Gopi said.The first biodiversity study on the Bharathapuzha conducted by the University Grants Commission in 2001 had found indiscriminate sand-mining  as the main reason for the degradation of the river. It found that “indiscriminate sand-mining is a dominant environmental issue throughout the river basin. The entire riverbed is cut up and run over by a very large number of trucks that descend on it daily to transport sand for customers all over South India. The situation is disastrous between Pattambi and Thirunavaya, where both legal and illegal sand quarrying goes on unabatedly.”

 Despite various studies on the destructive effects of widespread sand mining, the authorities were turning a blind eye to the destruction of the Bharathapuzha river valley system, said P.S. Panikkar, secretary, Malampuzha Dam Protection Committee.