Kerala river protection panel up in arms against fiscal policy statement

The All Kerala River Protection Committee is planning a campaign against the implementation of several parts of the Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement of the State government, presented by Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal in the recent Budget session of the Legislative Assembly, on grounds that it will eventually lead to the biggest environmental disaster in Kerala.

The Minister, in the budget, had outlined several plans to increase the non-tax revenue of the State, and mooted sand mining from rivers, m-sand, and p-sand as some of the means.

Mr. Balagopal had reportedly said that a lot of sand had accumulated in the rivers in the State during the 2018 and 2019 floods and it would be beneficial to the State if the sand was mined and sold. However, the river protection committee has said that it will destroy the rivers. “The sand audit recently revealed that there was not enough sand in our rivers. On the other hand, many parts of them are way below the sea level,” said T.V. Rajan, State secretary of the committee. Instead of mining, the government should take steps to deposit the excess sand in trenches formed at the bottom of the rivers and level the surface for easy flow of water. Otherwise, it would lead to water scarcity not just in rivers, but in wells too, said Mr. Rajan, adding that the Irrigation Department had done it earlier in Thoothapuzha.

The Finance Minister also mooted the opening of more quarries for additional revenue. “At present, there are quarries everywhere in the State except in the plantation sector. The new decision of the government may pave the way for quarrying in the plantation sector, a long pending demand of the quarry lobby,” said Mr. Rajan.

The committee is planning a State-wide protest and campaign against the two suggestions in the policy statement, alleging that it will leave the State’s eco-system beyond repair.

The committee has also urged the State government to withdraw from the case filed by the quarry owners in the Supreme Court against the National Green Tribunal’s order to maintain a minimum distance of 200 metres between a quarry and the nearest household.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 10:38:08 PM |

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