Hartal against sand-mining at Thottapally

Fishermen want the State to shelve the process and protect the coast

May 23, 2020 10:54 pm | Updated 10:54 pm IST - Alappuzha

A dawn-to-dusk hartal will be observed in the coastal areas of Alappuzha on Monday by the Janakeeya Samara Samithi against mineral sand-mining at Thottappally.

Dheevara Sabha general secretary V. Dinakaran said here on Saturday that the hartal would be observed between Valiyazheekkal and Pallithode.

“The State government should shelve mineral sand-mining and protect the coast. Protests will also be held across the coastal regions in the State on Monday,” he said.

A dharna was organised under the aegis of the Samara Samithi at the Alappuzha district collectorate on Saturday. On Friday, around 550 trees, mostly casuarina trees, close to the Thottappally estuary were axed. The trees were cut down based on an observation that the trees were impeding the flow of floodwaters from Kuttanad. According to the district administration, the trees were chopped to widen the estuary and ensure smooth flow of water during the rainy season.

Prior to the felling of trees, the Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML) had started removing sand deposit from the estuary. The removed sand is being transported to its unit at Chavara. Although the fishermen community is not against sand removal from the estuary, which is an annual process to ensure the flow of floodwaters into the sea, it is up in arms against the transportation of the mineral-rich sand. In the previous years, the sand removed from the estuary was kept nearby.

The fishermen alleged that the trees near the estuary had been felled to extract more mineral-rich sand from Thottappally, which would be detrimental to the environment and the fishermen community in the region.

Apart from removing sand deposit and the steps to widen the estuary, the Irrigation Department has launched work to deepen the 11-km leading channel of the Thottappally spillway. Public Works Minister G. Sudhakaran said the actions were intended to prevent flooding in Kuttanad.

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