Shortage of manually dredged sand from the Valapattanam river, sold through the Ports Department after the announcement of the government’s policy of allotment of mining permits to panchayats, is feared to cause a rise in illegal mining in the river.
The government decided to allot the mining permits only to the local panchayats, thus discontinuing the practice of renewing permits of co-operative societies of sand mining workers.
The new system is expected to fetch the Ports Department and local panchayats additional revenue.
Sand mining resumed in Azhikode panchayat on July 3, while Pappinissery panchayat has begun it in one kadavu (sand extraction point). Valapattanam, Kallyasseri, and Mattul are yet to start the sand mining works. Each panchayat has been granted three kadavus .
“Earlier 75,000 tonnes of sand were extracted from the river a month, now the volume has reached only 10,000 tonnes over the past one month since mining resumed in the kadavus in Azhikode panchayat,” said M. Sudheer Kumar, Senior Port Conservator at the Azhikkal Port. The new system will benefit the public if it reaches full swing.
The dredged sand taken from the kadavus are now sold at ₹7900 per five tonnes plus transportation charge. Earlier, when the sand mining permit had been given to the societies, the price was anywhere between ₹14,000 and ₹17,000 per mini lorry, with less carrying capacity. “While the demand is high, the supply of sand from the river in the panchayats is far less than before,” said Port officials, adding that non-availability of sand through legal route would result in its sale illegally.
“Protests by local people against the cleaning of manually dredged sand is a problem that is hampering some panchayats from resuming mining,” said K. Narayanan, Pappinissery panchayat president. The panchayats were keen to resume mining as it gave them additional revenue, he said.