Hartal on June 21 against mineral sand-mining in Alappuzha district in Kerala

Protests organised by Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samithi to held in coastal areas of district on Monday

A dawn-to-dusk hartal will be observed in Purakkad grama panchayat on June 21 by the Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samithi against mineral sand-mining at Thottappally in Alappuzha district.

Suresh Kumar S., chairman of the Samithi, said that apart from the hartal, protests would be held in the coastal areas of the district on Monday.

Local residents have recently intensified their protest against sand-mining. The indefinite relay satyagraha being staged under the aegis of the samithi entered the 10th day on Saturday. Protests are also being carried out by Janakeeya Samara Samithi.

After a period of lull, removal and transportation of mineral-rich sand from Thottappally ‘pozhi’ (sandbar at sea mouth) was resumed last month. According to officials, the sand is removed to ensure smooth flow of floodwaters from Kuttanad into the sea. The sand is being transported to Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. (KMML) and Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IREL).

Although the local residents, especially the fishermen community, is not against sand removal from the pozhi, which is an annual process, it is up in arms against the transportation of the mineral-rich sand.

Flood mitigation

KMML and IREL started to transport mineral-rich sand from the pozhi last year after the government accorded permission to extract two lakh cubic metres of sand. Prior to that, the sand removed from the estuary was kept nearby.

Residents alleged that the government was engaged in large-scale mineral sand-mining in the guise of flood mitigation. The coastline is prone to severe sea attack. A large number of people in Thottappally and nearby areas were displaced when their houses were destroyed in recent years.

Residents fear that the sand-mining would prove detrimental to those living along the shorelines from Valiazheekal to Punnapra. They demanded an immediate halt to mining activities in the area.

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