Indiscriminate sand mining turns river a death-trap

August 26, 2014 12:00 am | Updated 05:51 am IST - Palakkad:

Indiscriminate and unscientific sand-mining has turned the Gayathripuzha, a major tributary of the Bharathapuzha, into a deathtrap. Deep gorges formed on the riverbed due to indiscriminate sand-mining make the river dangerous even for expert swimmers.

With the drowning of siblings Gokul and Rahul and their relative Ashwini on Sunday, the total number of people who have lost their lives in the river in the past two years has touched 20. Pandikadavu at Alathur, where Sunday’s accident occurred, is badly affected by illegal sand-mining.

Local people say that the mid and low-land areas of the river which were originally sand storage zones have turned into deathtraps due to indiscriminate mining. Mud-filled pits, about nine to ten metres deep, have been formed in the river due to selective extraction of construction-grade sand, using pole and net scooping, says M. Arumugan, a local resident.

“The pits keep migrating along the profile of the rivers, especially during monsoon as the high flow regime leads to bed degradation downstream and head-ward erosion (head cutting) upstream levelling layers of sand.

This brings about unpredictable changes in the sub-surface water topography,” says Mr. Arumugan quoting experts. People cannot be warned against venturing into a particular part of the river because of this ever-changing underwater topography, he says.

The pits will often be filled significantly with silt and clay left after selective extraction of sand using porous scoopers. Hence, a person who steps into the pit would find it near-impossible to retrieve his/her feet.

A board installed by local residents at Pandikadavu says 17 precious lives have been lost in the river.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.