Sand-mining turns rivers into death traps

Deep pits formed on the riverbed of the Pampa, the Manimala and the Achencoil rivers due to unscientific sand-mining have resulted in the loss of as many as 26 lives in the past six months.

Experts say that wanton exploitation of river resources have made alarming changes in the riverine system, and the very character and structure of these rivers over the past two decades.

Many stretches of the Pampa, the Achencoil and the Manimala have become deep dykes with dangerous undercurrents and whirlpools. People getting accidently trapped in these whirlpools have become a regular feature in different parts of the district.

Anilkumar, an expert diver and swimmer, was fatally trapped in such a whirlpool in the Pampa a month ago.

Five persons have drowned in the Kallara kadavu in the Achencoil so far this year and two private bus employees were washed away by strong undercurrents in the Achencoil at Kumbazha a few days ago.

Several cases of drowning have been reported from the downstream reaches of the old bridge across the Manimala in Mallappally town.

D. Padmalal, CESS scientist, says the riverbeds of the Pampa, the Achencoil and the Manimala had gone down 5 to 10 metres along many stretches due to sand removal during the past 25 years.

The muddy layer of the riverbed has been exposed along many stretches of these rivers and the sand lobby is now eyeing the mud deposits, an essential raw material for the brick industry.

The sand mafia, supported by a section of people’s representatives, politicians, and certain official quarters, has covered the length and breadth of the river basins of the Pampa, Achencoil, and Manimala, leaving environment the main casualty and the common people at the receiving end.

Threat to bridges

Many bridges in the three rivers too are facing threat owing to sand-mining-induced erosion of sand from the close vicinity of their piers.

Experts say that 20 to 30-ft high sheets of water roll down the Pampa, the Manimala, and the Achencoil during the rainy season and some of these weak bridges may not be able to withstand the pressure of a flash flood.

V.N. Gopinatha Pillai, All-Kerala River Protection Council vice-president, has called upon the government to take immediate steps to plug the loopholes in the Kerala River Bank Protection and Regulation of Sand Mining Act-2001, and its implementation in letter and spirit, without any further delay.

Mr. Pillai has urged the local self-government institutions and the district authority to take appropriate measures to check accidents in the rivers.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 5:37:17 am |