Mineral sand miners working in Alappad would cease sea washing of mineral sand for one month while an expert committee submitted a report on the issue, Minister for Industries EP Jayarajan said at a press meet in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. Anti-mining protesters, however, see this as a band aid solution to the ecological damage caused by mining in Alappad.
After holding a meeting with Alappad action council, EP Jayarajan said, “Seven representatives of the protesting groups met the government. The government heard them carefully and decided to constitute an expert committee to hear their grievances. Till the committee submits its report, the government has asked the IRE [Indian Rare Earths Limited, the CPSU carrying out the mining in Alappad] to stop sea washing operation."
He added that “inland washing will continue as without doing that it will be impossible for IRE to function in that area.”
The committee, headed by CESS scientist T N Prakash, is to submit its report within 30 days. EP Jayarajan said that a monitoring committee, headed by Alappad’s District Collector, would oversee the mining activities in the area. The government will also reportedly consider the demand that a local representative from the area be included in the committee.
EP Jayarajan also pointed out that “the protesters have raised complaints that the sea wall has weakened in many sections. In Alappad panchayat, the mining is done in 16.5 km, of which the sea wall extends to 16 km in the portions were sea wall is there, in many places it is weakened. The government will take all measures to strengthen the sea wall.”
He further stated that the government would not tolerate disruptions in Alappad by external elements, and that the people of Alappad should be vigilant against such external disruptions.
Anti-mining protesters have been carrying out demonstration in real life and online against the alleged ecological damage that mining in Alappad will result in, particularly due to soil erosion. The Save Alappad campaign has seen public support on social media by popular actors like Tovino Thomas and Prithviraj.
Anti-mining protesters, who have been launching a citation against the mining activities in the region under the banned Save Alappad, have told The New Indian Express that they will continue their protest until mining is completely stopped in the area.