Karnataka

Islanders in a predicament over sand dunes on the beach

The sand dunes that were cut open for sand mining have now been naturally restored by the waters of the sea and the rivulets, on the Batpady beach near Mangaluru on Saturday. ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

The sand dunes that were cut open for sand mining have now been naturally restored by the waters of the sea and the rivulets, on the Batpady beach near Mangaluru on Saturday. ANIL KUMAR SASTRY  

Residents of Uchchila kudru and Talapady kudru (river islands) on the beaches of the Arabian Sea, bordering Kerala and off Mangaluru, are in two minds over what to do with the sand dunes that have always been a part of their landscape.

While nature has prevented free flow of three rivulets — Uchchila, Talapady and Kunjathur that join together at Batpady — into the Arabian Sea thanks to the presence of large sand dunes, the local administration cuts open the dunes during the monsoons to prevent flooding of these kudrus. In summer, though, people don’t want the waters to join the sea as the groundwater will get recharged and does not get salty with the sea water. So, traditionally the sand dunes have always served a purpose. However, of late, illegal sand extraction on the beach has been destroying the sand dunes and threatening the fragile ecosystem, irrespective of the season.

By October, illegal sand extraction had destroyed the dunes, and water was draining into the sea. Following The Hindu’s expose on October 22, the Ullal police raided illegal sand dens and seized 16 boats and 30 loads of sand. Still, about 16 boats are underwater, sunk by illegal sand operators, say residents.

As the sand extraction came to a halt, nature had its way and now the dunes are restored thereby preventing rivulets from draining into the sea. Though residents are happy with the crackdown on sand mining, they are demanding the opening of the sand dunes, as fresh water flow from upstream is likely to inundate their gardens, said Someshwara Gram Panchayat president Rajesh Uchchil. However, illegal sand miners do not want this as the police could then seize the sunken boats, he said, adding that water flow was heavy though it had stopped raining.

Not all residents are in agreement with the panchayat. Cutting open the dunes, either by the panchayat or by sand miners post-monsoon, is not advisable, said one resident. The estuary is home to several “delicious fish breeds”, which feast on Nakkulu Hula (worm) in the mangroves. Without the worm, the fish may not have the distinct taste, said the resident. “Having the sand dunes will ensure that water will not evaporate fast, and we need not fear flooding,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 6:59:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/islanders-in-a-predicament-over-sand-dunes-on-the-beach/article25349626.ece

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