Kerala

Tough action curtails sand-mining

Ottappalam : The number of seized tipper lorries parked in the compound of the Revenue Divisional Office here are indicative of the extent of the once-thriving illegal sand-mining business in the riverbeds of the Bharathapuzha. In the last two years alone, the number of vehicles seized from the Ottappalam-Shornur- Thrithala stretch of the river crossed 550.

“Two weeks ago, we auctioned 400 vehicles. The remaining vehicles would also be auctioned soon. I will send out a strong message against illegal sand-mining,” said Ottappalam Sub Collector P B Nooh. Mr. Nooh, however, says of late the tough measures initiated by the Revenue Department have started yielding results.

“Unlike the previous years, our special squad remains active throughout the night. We also have large-scale public participation in efforts to nab those engaged in sand-mining. Boats used for collecting sand in the river are dismantled instantly,’’ said Vijayabhaskar, Deputy Tehsildar who is leading the special squad comprising a dozen senior officials and their assistants.

The result is astonishing. No case of illegal sand-mining has been registered in the last two months from the Ottappalam-Thrithala stretch due to foolproof preventive measures. ``Our squad comprises only those specially identified truthful officials and they act with the support of local communities. We have ensured zero illegal sand-mining in the three taluks. The progress is remarkable in the case of Pattambi region, which had earned notoriety in the previous years,’’ said Mr. Vijayabhaskar.

The fine collected from violators in the last one-and-a-half years alone was around Rs 1 crore. “In spite of regulations and prohibition, sand-mining had continued rampant on the riverbed of Bharathapuzha all these years. Water tables dropped dramatically, and a land once known for its plentiful rice harvest now faced scarcity of water. We have to integrate both conservation and livelihood,’’ said Mr. Bava. In most parts, the 209-km long river is covered with shrubs and weeds, and looks more like an unkempt ground than a water body.

Sand-mining has affected water supply schemes in Ottapalam, Shoranur and Pattambi, which depend on the Bharathapuzha water. Every year, the well in the middle of the river course for drawing water for the water supply schemes has to be dug deeper due to the depletion of the water table,” says environmentalist P.S. Panicker.


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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 3:15:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tough-action-curtails-sandmining/article8354476.ece

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