Kerala

Greens oppose sand-mining

‘Extracting sand deposits will do more harm than good to Pampa’

Pampa Purarjani, an eco group that stands for rejuvenation of the Pampa river and its tributaries, have taken strong exception towards the reported government move to auction off the sand deposited in the Pampa during floods.

M.N. Radhakrishnan, Pampa Punarjani president and former technical expert attached to the Union Ministry of Water Resources, told The Hindu that the river and its tributaries, Achencoil and Manimala, were regarded as the lifelines of the Central Travancore region and the backwaters of Kuttanad.

Various studies carried out by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS) and the Central Water Commission had found that indiscriminate sand extraction from the Pampa and its tributaries had led to the lowering of the respective riverbeds by five to six m over three decades.

Water scarcity

These river basins had also been experiencing acute water scarcity during the non-monsoon period owing to sand-mining-induced drastic depletion of the groundwater table in the locality.

Caving-in of the river banks too had been a major problem facing the Pampa river owing to the wanton destruction of the natural protective vegetation along its banks.

Deluge

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the deluge of August, 2018, and the series of floods in 2019 had brought in huge deposits of sand that could help rejuvenate the river system through a natural process in the years to come.

Extracting these sand deposits would do more harm than good to the river system and the environment.

He said unscientific sand-mining was one of the many human interventions that had put the State in the shadow of ecological repercussions. The impacts were not restricted to the aquatic environment but extended to terrestrial environment as well.

A NCESS study had found the population of insects such as may fly, dragon fly, chironomids, caddisflies, and other insects of the order Diptera declining fast owing to indiscriminate sand extraction from the river basins and related aquatic environments.

The Union government had included the Pampa river in the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) way back in 2003-04.

The State’s failure to implement this Centrally sponsored project had already exposed the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities concerned towards conservation of environment and freshwater sources in the State, he alleged.

According to him, the State should set up a nodal agency for effective protection of the Pampa river and its tributaries, instead of permitting any more extraction of sand from the riverbed.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 12:11:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/greens-oppose-sand-mining/article30873774.ece

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