The ban on river sand-mining has hardly made any impact on the activity, as illegal miners are now busy carting away impure sand from coastal regions.
Big and small scale construction sectors are now depending on this illegal supply and pay extra money to the suppliers. Small groups of miners have made their entry into the field by taking advantage of the poor surveillance in the sector and the increased demand for the product.
For a sack of sand, the buyers are now compelled to pay Rs.100, which may go up as per the demand of the suppliers. The coastal areas of Vadakara, Azhiyoor, Madakkara, Muttungal, and Mukachery are busy in the illegal trade, operating with the support of some local residents.
A resident from Azhiyoor said there were protests at the initial stages against the illegal mining, but it slowly diminished with the increasing demand for river sand. “Many of the small and large scale construction firms faced a setback with the unexpected ban on mining,” he said.
To evade the eyes of the police and environmentalists, most of the mining activities are taking place early in the morning. As no extra labour or investment is needed to extract sand from the seabed, small labour groups, even from distant locations, come to the seashore for the quick income. Illegally mined sand is filled in sacks and transported in autorickshaws and luxury cars to trick the police and revenue officials.
People who have already stored the required river sand for construction activities too have started reselling the product to take advantage of the shortage.
Meanwhile, the police said they had tightened the search in the coastal areas. The police said that in a recent raid they had seized nearly 50 sacks of sand procured near Azhiyoor and in another raid on Madakkara beach they seized 374 sacks of sand.