Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey and environmental activist CR Neelakantan joined the protesters in Alappad village of Kollam district.

Kerala villagers form human chain to mark 1 year of protests against beach sand mining
news Environment Saturday, November 02, 2019 - 17:19

Around 3000 people from Alappad village of Kollam district have been on a relay hunger strike for the last one year against mineral beach sand mining in the coastal area. On the first anniversary of the strike, the protestors formed a human chain ‘Sagara Shayanam’, on the beach near Vellanathuruthu in Alappad on Friday. Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey and environmental activist CR Neelakantan joined the protesters. The protesters had also held a coastal march on Thursday. 

"The two public sector mining companies exist here by violating all the rules. Why are our governing systems not taking any action? I offer my full support to the protest in future and will also do my best to bring the issue to national and international level," Sandeep Pandey said while addressing the protesters.

Two public sector companies, Indian Rare Earth (IRE) which comes under the central government and Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML), a company under the state government, have been mining in the coastal areas of Kollam since 1968. The minerals ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, leucoxene (brown ilmenite), sillimanite and garnet are present in these areas. TNM had earlier reported on how Kovilthottam, Panmana, Alappad and a few other villages in Kollam were badly affected due to mining and have slowly started to disappear from the map of Kerala. 

Read: Watch: How sand mining in Kerala is wiping out acres of land in this seaside village

Read ;Villages vanish in Kerala's Kollam coast as they succumb to sand mining

The locals have been waging a fight for the last many decades, but their demands went unheard by the authorities.  It was on November 1, 2018, that the residents under Karimanal Khananavirudha Janakeeya Samiti, started a relay hunger strike involving 3000 people. Thousands of other villagers have also joined in the protests in the last one year.

"Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his book has said about the need for sea shores to be protected. He has explained how the organisms in the sea will be affected with seashore mining. He has been introduced as a leader who does what he says. But in the case of mining in Kollam, till now, he hasn't taken any action yet," said Sreekumar KC, environmental activist and s resident of Alappad.

Sreekumar reminded that according to litho map in the last 60 years, Alappad village's area has reduced from 89 square km to 8 square km. He said that as an aftereffect of mining, about 20,000 hectares of land was taken by the sea.

The residents of the area plan to hold continuous protests near the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram soon.

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