Estuary dredging is mining: Angry residents

ALAPPUZHA: Resentment is brewing among residents of Purakkad gram panchayat against the move of major irrigation department (MID) to sell mineral sand from Thottappally ‘pozhi’ (estuary) to either Indian Rare Earths (IRE) Limited or Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited(KMML)

The gram panchayat authorities and fishermen have warned that they would launch an indefinite agitation if IRE or KMML are carrying out mineral
sand mining in the name of dredging works.

MID executive engineer Haran Babu said that they had submitted a proposal to the state government to remove the sand after the sand barrier blocked the flow of floodwaters from Kuttanad to Arabian sea.

“The sand barrier at the estuary is blocking the flow of water from Kuttanad to the sea. So, we have demanded the state government to deploy a company to remove the sand. We need to remove two lakh cubic metres of sand to ensure the smooth flow of water from the leading channel to the sea. We will deploy either IRE or KMML for the purpose and they have to pay the value of the sand to the state government. The panchayat does not have any ownership over the land or sand there. ‘Pozhi’ comes under our department and the local body does not have any right to prevent it. It is inevitable to remove the sand from there for ensuring the flow of water from Kuttanad to sea,” he said.

Panchayat president Rahumath said the state government has plans to sell mineral sand from Thottappally to IRE in the name of dredging works.

”We will not allow it and we will block it at any cost. Some years ago, IRE started to transport mineral sand from Thottappally harbour in the name of dredging works. Following this, houses of at least 159 families were swallowed by sea and Thottappally harbour still in the dire state. If IRE carries out mineral sand mining, it is sure that all the 11 wards will be wiped out from our panchayat. So, we have decided to start agitation,” said Dheevarasabha district president G Omanakuttan.

Courtesy: The Times of India