Illegal mining and trade of sea sand has gone up due to the lowering of surveillance in coastal areas of the district by Revenue officials, who have now been redeploy for Lok Sabha election duties.
The ban on river sand mining that is still prevailing in some areas has come in as a boon for the miners who are exploiting the situation to strike gold by marketing the product at a huge price.
For a sack of sea sand, the illegal traders now charge around Rs.100. According to sources in the construction industry, this price vary according to the demand.
Though the trend was initially confined to the interior costal regions of the district, it has now spread to the urban areas.
Many a time, the sand miners make use of young workers and migrant labourers to collect the sand and store it in unnoticed locations. Later, small goods vehicles are used to cart away the product during night hours.
The hub of such illegal sea sand miners are the coastal areas of Vadakara, Azhiyoor, Madakkara and Mukachery, where Revenue officials are finding it difficult to coordinate the checking drive along with election duties assigned to them. Last week, the police seized nearly two loads of sand, secretly procured from the Beypore coastal region, following a tip-off by local people.
Despite the police cracking down on some groups and seizing several loads of illegally procured sand, the trend has not stopped. According to the police, some of the local residents are emerging as “paid informers” for the traders.
A fisherman from Beypore says the miners are mainly extracting sand from the areas close to the sea wall.
“If the trend is continuing, it is sure to damage the wall in many places. The police and revenue officials are also aware of the fact,” he says.
Another fisherman from Poonarvalappu, a costal area near Beypore, alleges the Revenue Department is encouraging the trade often by public auctioning of the seized product. “They are very much aware that sea sand is not recommended for quality constructions, but, for profit, they are also reselling it,” he says.
People from the coastal areas in Vadakara say the continuing shortage of river sand and the diminishing surveillance on sea sand mining will lure several youngsters to the illegal trade. V. Prabhakaran, a resident of Muttungal near Vadakara, says the re-trading of sea sand is an “effortless task” for many, as no filtering process is done prior selling.
“They sell the raw product in sack and earn quick profit for a luxury life,” he says.