An indefinite relay satyagraha under the aegis of the Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samiti against mineral sand-mining at Thottappally completed 26 days on Monday.
Suresh Kumar S., chairman of the samiti, said that the protest would be strengthened. “We will organise a mass protest proclamation on July 7. It will be attended by environmentalist C.R. Neelakandan, former High Court judge B. Kemal Pasha and others,” Mr. Kumar said.
The samiti is demanding suspension of ‘sea-washing’ activity at Thottappally. “Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. (KMML) and Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IREL), which are engaged in mining and transportation of sand, have created pits in the sea close to the mouth. Sand will automatically fill in the pits, making the entire mineral sand-mining activity much easier. They tried sea washing at Alappad a few years ago, where it was later prohibited. They have shifted all machines here. Sea washing will be detrimental to the entire Thottappally coast,” Mr. Kumar said.
After a period of lull, removal and transportation of mineral-rich sand from Thottappally pozhi (sandbar at sea mouth) were resumed in May.
For flow of floodwater
According to officials with the Irrigation Department, the sand is removed to ensure the smooth flow of floodwaters from Kuttanad into the sea. The sand removed is being transported to the KMML and the IREL.
The protesters said they were not against dredging of the channel and removal of sand from pozhi in a limited way, which was an annual process, but were opposed to the transportation of mineral-rich sand to the KMML and the IREL units at Chavara. Local residents, especially fishers who are up in arms, allege that the government is engaged in large-scale mineral sand-mining in the disguise of flood mitigation.
The coastline is prone to severe sea attacks and coastal erosion. Residents fear the sand-mining would prove detrimental to people living along the shorelines from Valiazheekal to Punnapra.