Fishers in Kerala call for rollback of Centre’s move to launch sea mining

They claim the operations will lead to loss of livelihood for thousands of fishermen and damage the environment beyond repair

Updated - March 05, 2023 12:19 am IST

Published - March 04, 2023 06:20 pm IST - KOCHI

Fishermen’s organisations have called on the Union government to withdraw a proposal to mine the sea for placer minerals. They claim that the operations will lead to loss of livelihood for thousands of fishermen and damage the environment beyond repair.

The demand came up after the Central government issued a notice for public consultations (February 9, 2023) on amendment of the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 (OAMDR). The Act currently regulates offshore mining, including in territorial waters, continental shelves, exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and other maritime zones of the country.

“Our demand is that the move to mine the sea should be completely withdrawn. The opinion will be conveyed to the government,” said V. Dinakaran, former MLA and general secretary of the Akhila Kerala Dheevara Sabha (AKDS), representing fishermen’s interests.

The Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation and the Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi, independent unions representing traditional fishermen, too have demanded that the government must withdraw from the move.

The public has been asked to submit suggestions and comments on or before March 11 on e-mail as MS-Office Word file to or posted to the address Mustaq Ahmad, Director, Ministry of Mines, Room No. 313, D-Wing Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi 110 001. The envelope may be superscribed as Comments/Suggestions on the amendment of the OAMDR Act, 2002.

Mr. Dinakaran said the Kerala Matsya Mekhala Samrakshana Samithi, a forum for the protection of Kerala fisheries sector, too is opposed to mining the sea. He said a recent meeting of the samithi viewed the issue seriously.

Jackson Pollayil of the Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation alleged that there was a move to silence any opposition to the government decision. In Kerala alone, the move will lead to the loss of livelihood of at least 2.5 lakh fishermen, he said.

Charles George of the Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi said the stage was being prepared for “sale” of India’s seas and their resources. The move is part of the blue economy agenda. The proposal is also a violation of the Constitutional provisions on the authority of the States over the nearshore area up to 22 km, he alleged.

The government notice on February 9 said India had a unique position in the maritime sector with 7,517 km of coastline through nine States and Union territories. Its EEZs cover over 2 million sq km and hold precious resources such as crude oil and gas, construction sand, heavy minerals, lime mud, crust and poly-metallic nodules.

At the same time, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has limited capacity to carry out the mining. In order to harness the resources, it is imperative to encourage the participation of the public-private sector with the latter bringing in necessary expertise and technology for mining, according to the government notice.

Mr. Dinakaran recalled that the government had initiated a similar move in 2017. However, it was withdrawn. He also claimed that in totality, mining will be part of a slew of activities that would alienate the fishermen from the livelihood means.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.