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Government to impose strict control on sand-mining

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GREEN VENTURE: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan planting a bamboo sapling on the bank of Karamana River on Tuesday as part of a scheme launched by the district panchayat. Photo: S. Gopakumar
GREEN VENTURE: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan planting a bamboo sapling on the bank of Karamana River on Tuesday as part of a scheme launched by the district panchayat. Photo: S. Gopakumar

Special Correspondent

Moves are on to plug the loopholes in the Land Utilisation Act: Achuthanandan

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said here on Tuesday that the Government is planning legislative amendments to impose strict control on sand-mining from rivers.

Addressing a public gathering near the Karamana bridge after inaugurating a river bank protection scheme launched by the district panchayat, he said moves were on to plug the loopholes in the Land Utilisation Act.

Mr. Achuthanandan said officials empowered to check sand-mining were often hampered by the inadequacies in the law. "The amendments will ensure stringent provisions to book violations of the law," he said. Mr. Achuthanandan stressed the need to check pollution of the river water.

Law Minister M. Vijayakumar, who presided over the function, said most of the rivers in the State were ravaged by sand-mining. "The existing laws are not strong enough to deter indiscriminate mining," he said.

Local Self-Government Minister Paloli Mohammed Kutty, Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran and Forest Minister Benoy Viswom, MP Pannian Ravindran, Mayor C. Jayan Babu, MLAs Mangode Radhakrishnan, V. Sivankutty, V. Surendran pillai and George Mercier, district panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan, vice-president B.P. Murali, District Collector N. Ayyappan and poet Sugathakumari were present.

Booklet released

Mr. Achuthanandan, his Cabinet colleagues and Ms. Sugathakumari later planted bamboo saplings on the banks.

The Mayor administered a riverbank protection pledge to the gathering. Mr. Premachandran released a booklet on the project and Mr. Mohammed Kutty presented awards to the winners of the photography contest organised in connection with the scheme.

The inauguration was followed by a massive plantation drive on both banks all along the length of the river from Peppara to Thiruvallam. The saplings were supplied by the Social Forestry Division and the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute.

The project has been taken up by the district panchayat with the active cooperation of the State Land Use Board, City Corporation, seven panchayats, Departments of Agriculture and Forest, District Literacy Mission, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Centre for Water Resources Development and Management, Kerala Agriculture University, Kudumbasree Mission, voluntary agencies and schools. Ward-level committees have been set up to ensure the success of the planting programme and the maintenance of the saplings.

The project is based on the concept of creating a vegetative barrier to check destabilisation of riverbanks. It is expected to replace the more expensive method of constructing concrete retaining walls.

The district panchayat has drawn up a plan to extend the programme to the Neyyar and Vamanapuram rivers.

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