KERALA

Sand-mining threatening dams

Threat to nature: Unauthorised sand-mining going on along the forest course of the Kallada river at Thenmala in Kollam district.

Threat to nature: Unauthorised sand-mining going on along the forest course of the Kallada river at Thenmala in Kollam district.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: C. Suresh Kumar

Ignatius Pereira

River Kallada’s banks bulldozed to augment sand resources

KOLLAM: District Collector A. Shajhan has directed the Pathanapuram tahsildar to inquire into and submit a report on unauthorised sand-mining activity along the forest course of the Kallada river, between the Thenmala dam and the Ottakkal check-dam at the Lookout point. Mr. Shajahan told The Hindu on Sunday that the issue would be taken up at the River Management Committee (RMC) meeting to be held here on April 10.

Strong measures against sand-mining are expected to be evolved at the meeting as the activity is posing a threat to both the dams, which are less than 3 km apart.

Local residents and environmental activists in the area said that unauthorised sand-mining from this course of the river had been going on for a long time with the connivance of the authorities concerned.

Political backing

A sand mafia which allegedly enjoys the backing of a political party is reported to be behind the activity. Every day, more than 30 truckloads of sand are mined and taken away from this course. While the labourers employed for the activity are paid Rs.700 per truck load, each load is sold by the mafia for Rs.15,000.

It is alleged that the officers concerned are given a monthly share of the mafia earnings.

Even the banks of the river are being bulldozed into the water for augmenting the sand resource of the course. Owing to the presence of the check-dam, the sand pushed into the river from the banks remains within this course of the river and in due course, turns into fine sand that can be mined and sold.

However, the crackdown by a recently-posted police sub-inspector at Thenmala is posing a challenge to the activity.

Last Friday a police team from Thenmala made a surprise swoop on the mining activity. While the labourers swam away from the scene, they left behind more than eight loads of sand, six boats and a truck.

Under the relevant law, the Revenue authorities have to make formal endorsements for the police to register a case in this connection. The police allege that in spite of being repeatedly informed the Revenue authorities at Pathanapuram failed to turn up.

The matter then reached the Collector who directed the Forest Department to take action as the unauthorised mining was going on in a forest area.

It was following this that the Collector set the date for the RMC meeting after directing the tahsildar to inquire and submit a report on the issue before the meeting.

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