Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader and former Minister N.K. Premachandran has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the irregularities connected with mineral sand-mining along the Neendakara-Alappuzha coast.

In a letter to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday, copies of which were given to the media on Wednesday, he alleged strong moves on the part of the government to privatise mineral sand-mining in the State, ostensibly as a measure to counter the menace of unauthorised mining and smuggling of mineral sand to factories outside the State.

Mr. Premachandran said that hardly any mining was going on in the mineral sand blocks vested in the public sector, thereby creating shortage of ilmenite for the industrial units which depended on the mineral.

Indian Rare Earths (IRE), located at Chavara, had slashed its production to barely 10 per cent of its capacity. The IRE, which used to engage 1,080 workers in 1996, now employed only 280 workers. He urged the State government to take over the Chavara unit of the IRE if the Union government had no interest in solving the problems there.

He suggested the formation of a ‘public sector corporate consortium’ involving the IRE and Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited and Travancore Titanium Products. A special police task force should be formed to prevent unauthorised mining.