Kerala's Alappad Could Be Wiped Off The Map If It Doesn't Fight Off Sand Mining Soon

Abhirami MS

An aerial view of sea erosion in Alappad.

The mighty Arabian Sea seems to be beneath the influence that Kerala’s Alappad panchayat belongs to it. The ocean started claiming the 17-km lengthy area from December 2004 when the tsunami struck India’s coast. Alappad had misplaced 129 lives within the tragedy. Since then, the ocean has been consuming into this as soon as thriving fishing village the place the general public sector corporate Indian Uncommon Earths Restricted (IREL) stays engaged in indiscriminate mineral sand mining.

In maximum spaces, the panchayat — positioned between a backwater area and the ocean — has become a slim strip with a width of not more than 500 meters, with some parts as slim as 33 meters.

Poorly erected seawalls are failing miserably in fighting the ocean erosion and protective the Alappad from a complete wipe-out. “By way of the following monsoon, the ocean will enhance its makes an attempt to say the land through breaching the rest sand wall. Doomsday isn’t some distance away and Alappadvert will quickly disappear from India’s map,” laments Cibi Boney, an area panchayat member from the Modern Marxist Birthday party (RSP).

Rahul Sathyan SK

A space the place sea has eaten the land in Alappad.


After 70 days of relay starvation strike through citizens tough an finish to the mineral sand mining and efforts to protected stay the panchayat for long term generations, the adolescence in Alappad began a hashtag marketing campaign #SaveAlappad on social media.

The marketing campaign stuck huge public consideration as younger other people throughout Kerala shared the hashtag on Fb and Twitter. As distinguished personalities together with movie stars and social employees shared the marketing campaign, Kerala’s mainstream media which had not noted the panchayat and its protests for lengthy was once compelled to take a seat up and take realize. Malayalam movie actors Prithviraj, Jayasurya and Tovino Thomas and Tamil celebrity Vijay had been amongst those that shared posts on Alappad’s plight.

The highlight on Alappad has angered Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Entrance (LDF) and its social media campaigners, who say the motion is subsidized through personal pursuits within the state’s mineral sand mining sector and goals a public sector corporate that helps numerous households in all of the coastal belt of Kollam and Alappuzha districts. On social media, LDF suppoters have additionally accused the motion of soliciting the Sangh Parivar’s reinforce.

“From the place did the combat get this surprising fillip? Sea erosion has been a subject since December 2004 after the tsunami hit the area. There’s an organised bid to thwart the general public sector mineral sand mining and to facilitate access of personal gamers,’’ Kerala’s fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma advised HuffPost India.

Alternatively, Boney says the native protest motion has no partisan politics, only a collective will for survival.

“There isn’t even an iota of fact within the reaction of the minister and the CPI(M) sympathisers who’re engaged in a counter marketing campaign towards us on social media. You’ll be able to see the truth and be satisfied your self. That is not a thriving coastal hamlet because it as soon as was once. The panchayat is now nearly a frail sand ridge dividing the ocean and the inland waterway,’’ says Boney. The erosion has compelled the over five,000 households to transport from their houses, she says.

Rahul Sathyan SK

Earth movers digging mineral sand in Alappad.

20,000 acres long past in 20 years

Going through land information the protestors posses, the world of the panchayat has shriveled from 89.five squarekm to 7.6 squarekm within the remaining 20 years. This implies the ocean has swallowed over 20,000 acres of land.

Public sector corporations IREL and Kerala Minerals and Metals Restricted (KMML) started sand mining at the Kollam-Alappuzha coast in 1965. Its speedy affect was once the vanishing of protecting dust banks from the shore. Conventional fish employees, who shaped nearly all of the native citizens, needed to relocate to different puts on the lookout for livelihood.

A learn about carried out through the Institute for Ocean Control in 2008 confirmed that the absolute best coastal erosion in Kerala was once reported from Alappad and the adjoining Arattupuzha, Thrikkunnapuzha, and Purakkad panchayats.

“What Alappad is witnessing now’s a blatant violation of the Nationwide Mineral Coverage, Atmosphere Coverage Act, Coastal Legislation Zone (CRZ), and Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act. Most effective two weeks in the past, the ocean entered the backwaters at Vellanathuruthu, a mining web page within the panchayat that had a width of three.five km,” issues out environmental activist and attorney Hareesh Vasudevan.

“The federal government transfer to silence the affected villagers should be condemned at any value. With out state govt permission, no personal participant can input this house. It’s an open secret that Aluva-based Cochin Minerals and Rutile Restricted (CMRL) and Thoothukudi-based VV Minerals Restricted are the 2 personal gamers within the box who need to additional exploit the Kollam-Alapuzha coastal area. All political events in Kerala are mainlining excellent rapport with those two corporations. The federal government has to reveal that unholy nexus first,’’ says Rahul Sathyan, an area adolescence engaged within the hashtag marketing campaign.

The citizens of Alappad are tough a whole ban on mining. “The corporations argue that they’ve permission until 2020 for interact in mining. However, through then, there shall be no Alappad. The federal government which had grew to become a blind eye to our combat thus far, is now spreading canards” says native motion council chief Okay.C. Sreekumar.

Regardless of the counter campaigns, the sudden reinforce pouring in from all quarters has made citizens hopeful. “Social media has made our combat extra visual and now the federal government is left with out a choice however to intrude,” says Sreekumar.

Folks say the ocean erosion has uncovered a very important water provide pipeline throughout the panchayat, and a pipe burst is approaching. For the area, which is underneath sea degree and has on the subject of 7,000 properties however no wells, the pipeline is the one supply of ingesting water. panchayat

The sand dunes at the coast of Alappad are wealthy within the minerals ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, leucoxene (brown ilmenite), sillimanite and garnet. Sand mining within the house poses grave environmental in addition to livelihood issues no longer simply in Alappad but additionally for the close by villages.

“The Valiyazhikkal-Thottappilly stretch is a extremely erosion-prone beach. The mineral-rich sand coast had acted as a sea wall protective the world from erosion, and averted sea water from flowing directly to the rice fields in Kuttanad, which can be on the subject of this house in addition to underneath sea degree,’’ says recommend and setting activist Hareesh Vasudevan. The indiscriminate mining has taken away this herbal coverage, destroying vegetation in Kuttanad, he says.

Rahul Sathyan SK

Earth movers in motion at Alappad for mineral sand mining.

Strolling round Alappad, one can see deserted properties, temples, colleges and different structures in addition to dried up, red-coloured ponds and mangrove forests can also be observed within the panchayat.

“Most of the people of Alappad were compelled to go away their properties on account of the ocean erosion. Neither the federal government nor the mining corporations had equipped them any compensations’’ says Boney.

Public vs personal sector

In 1991, following the union govt’s financial liberalisation, personal funding was once accredited within the mineral sand mining sector.  By way of 1998, the union govt had even accredited mining collaboration with international corporations. However Kerala has been resisting all makes an attempt through the Centre to permit personal gamers and international capital on this sector. The state govt feels that any makes an attempt to weaken the general public sector corporations would change into a bonus for the personal gamers, keen to harvest large earnings from the area.

“We will be able to stand with the state govt to withstand any try to permit personal gamers right here. Our fear is land, livelihood and survival. So as to offer protection to them, we will be able to proceed to stay vocal concerning the evil affects of mining through public sector corporations,’’ says Seekumar.

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