The sand in Kerala’s Kollam coast is darker, thanks to the rich mineral content in it. It is said that back in the 1920s, German sailors used to visit Kollam or Quilon’s coastline to get hold of the sand here, or so an urban legend exists.
Though the truth of this tale can never be established, these urban myths hint at the value of this particular coastline in Kerala. And if that isn’t proof enough, decades of exploitative mineral beach sand mining in the region will testify to the worth of Kollam’s shores and how the government and third parties are gaining out of mining here.
Fed up with the unscientific mining of sand that is being done here, villagers from Alappad, a seaside hamlet in this coastline took to social media to get the rest of the world to sit up and take notice of their plight.
The sand mining done by two government companies - Indian Rare Earth Ltd owned by the Central government and the Kerala State Metals and Minerals Ltd., by the state, has reduced the coastline and the total area of the land here drastically. Back in the 60s, when both companies hadn’t begun mining, Alappad’s total land area was 89.6 sq kms. Today, the revenue books state that the village is just 8 sq kms in size, with the mining having eaten up 7 kms of the coast.
Alappad and many neighbouring villages is nestled between backwater channels and the Arabian Sea. In many parts of this stretch, land is merely a strip of sand between the backwater and sea. With extensive mining, locals say that this strip of land too will vanish and the backwater will mix with the ocean water which, they fear, could lead to another deluge submerging the entire area until Upper Kuttanad.
Residents have undertaken an indefinite hunger strike to get the government to stop mining altogether. However the adamant state administration has lent no support to the cause and have instead allowed the companies to mine till 2020. They also plan to expand their operations, this time to the neighbouring district of Alappuzha.
Watch the video to understand more about this issue: